Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry
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Arsenic is perhaps history’s favorite poison, often termed the “King of Poisons” and the “Poison of Kings” and thought to be the demise of fiction’s most famous ill-fated lovers. The toxic nature of arsenic has been known for millennia with the mineral realgar (AsS), originally named “arsenikon” by Theophrastus in 300 B.C.E. meaning literally “potent.” For centuries it has been used as rat poison and as an important component of bactericides and wood preservatives. Arsenic is believed to be the cause of death to Napoleon Bonaparte who was exposed to wallpaper colored green from aceto-arsenite of copper (Aldersey-Williams 2011). The use of arsenic as a poison has been featured widely in literature, film, theatre, and television. Its use as a pesticide made it well known in the nineteenth century and it was exploited by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the Sherlock Holmes novel The Golden Pince-Nez (Conan-Doyle 1903). The dark comedy Arsenic and Old Lace is a prime example of arsenic in popular culture, being first a play but becoming famous as a movie.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Preface
Series title Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry
Volume 79
Issue 1
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Mineralogical Society of America
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description 3 p.
First page iii
Last page v
Public Comments This is the Preface to a special volume of this journal series, titled Environmental Geochemistry, Mineralogy, and Microbiology of Arsenic
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