Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 73
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sive use of white arsenic not based on its poison-
ous quality is in glassmaking. A substantial
quantity (7 to 10 percent) of the domestic out-
put has been used as a decolorizer, as a constitu-
ent of opalescent and opal glass, and in enamels.
Sodium arsenite is the active ingredient of
herbicides used as weedkillers and to control
aquatic plant life. It is used to some extent for
sheep and cattle dips and for termite control.
Probably the most familiar metallurgical ap-
plication of arsenic is in manufacturing lead
shot. Small additions of arsenic, up to 1 per-
cent, change the surface tension of lead and
permit the formation of spherical shot. Arsenic
is used to improve particular properties of lead,
copper, and some of their alloys. Additions of
small amounts harden lead and minimize soft-
ening of lead-base-bearing alloys used in inter-
nal-combustion engines where elevated temper-
atures are encountered. Arsenical lead babbitts
develop remarkably fine and uniform structure
and have excellent fatigue strength.
An important metallurgical use of arsenic is
in arsenical copper, where it increases corrosion
and erosion resistance, raises the annealing tem-
perature, and perhaps serves as a deoxidizer.
Arsenical copper is useful in making automobile
radiators and other manufactured objects
assembled by soldering, as little or no strength
is lost from soldering heats owing to the higher
annealing (recrystallization) temperature.
There are two leading commercial sulfides of
arsenic: (1) Arsenic disulfide (As2S2), an
orange-red compound found in nature as the
mineral realgar but ordinarily made artificially,
which contains 70 percent arsenic; and (2)
arsenic trisulfide (AsS,), a lemon-yellow ma-
terial containing 61 percent arsenic and found
in nature as orpiment or manufactured arti-
ficially. Realgar is used as a paint pigment,
as a depilatory in tanning, and for making a
white (Bengal) fire used in pyrotechnics. The
red color is a desirable feature in treating hides
or skins; but as sodium sulfide and calcium
compounds are cheaper and nonpoisonous, they
tend to displace arsenic sulfide for this use.
Orpiment or king's yellow is used as a paint
pigment and a reducing agent in chemical
work; it is very bright yellow and has good
covering power but is not permanent when ex-
posed to light and cannot be mixed with many
other colors. The pentasulfide (As2S,) has a
more limited use in paint pigments, blue fire,
and Bengal lights.
In medicine, arsenic sulfides and other arsen-
ical compounds have been prescribed for cen-
turies for many diseases; however, it has been
used without true success. Fowler's solution,
a 1-percent aqueous solution of potassium arse-
nite, introduced late in the 18th century, is
considered to be the first really effective arsen-
ical drug. It is dispensed today for certain
human skin disorders and for animal therapy.
BYPRODUCTS, COPRODUCTS, AND
RELATIONSHIPS TO OTHER COMMODITIES
Arsenic occurs principally as a component of
various metallic ores in which it is an undesir-
able impurity, and the domestic output is ob-
tained as a byproduct from the smelting or
roasting of these ores for recovery of other
metals, mainly gold, silver, copper, and lead.
Often the arsenic content of the treated ores is
very small. At many custom mills and smelt-
ers it is considered a nuisance.
In recent years advances in organic chemistry
have adversely affected the use of arsenicals in
the dye industry and in medicine and have also
created many new and competitive products
free from arsenic, especially for insecticides.
Today, benzene hexachloride (BHC), toxa-
phene, chlordane, dieldrin, aldrin, dichlorodi-
phenyltrichloroethane (DDT), parathion, tet-
raethylpyrophosphate (TEPP), demeton, mal-
athion, and many other products are vying for
the top positions formerly occupied by calcium
and lead arsenates. Most of these compounds
have lower toxicities for humans than the inor-
The same decline is being experienced by so-
dium arsenite. Many less toxic organic herbi-
cides, not containing arsenic, have been devel-
oped and are competing for dominance in weed
Two inactive mines near Gold Hill, Utah
(the United States mine of the United States
Smelting, Refining & Mining Co. and the West-
ern Utah Copper Co. mine) have been impor-
tant sources of arsenic in the past and have sub-
stantial arsenic reserves. Likewise, mines that
could yield arsenic directly in connection with
milling or treating ores for valuable metals,
chiefly gold and silver, such as the Jardine mine
in Montana and the Getchell mine in Nevada,
could be operated if needed. The reserve of
recoverable white arsenic in the United States
has been estimated as follows (8).2
Class I. Byproduct of smelting operations- , 000
Class II. Milling ores (gold and silver)- ---1,000
Class III. High-grade arsenic ore (20 percent
AsO) --------------------------------- 500
Total ---------------- 2, 500
SItalicized numbers in parentheses refer to items in the
bibliography at end of chapter.
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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition, report, 1960; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/m1/81/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.