It’s been called “the mother of all poisons.” You can't taste arsenic and you can’t smell it, which is why it’s been the poison of choice for centuries.
“During the Middle Ages it was called the succession powder,” says Jerome Nriagu, professor emeritus of public health at the University of Michigan.
“That’s the way people got rid of the kings and queens if they wanted to become the king or queen themselves,” he said.
Arsenic, in very high doses, can kill you.
But arsenic is a naturally occurring element and doctors and scientists like Nriagu are working hard to understand how arsenic affects us today.
A family experiences mysterious health problems
Renee Thompson and her family were sick for three years without having any idea why.
“My children and my husband all became very ill after we moved into the house we had in Ortonville,” she said.
At the time, Thompson had recently given birth to her third child, Danica.
“My son was six, and he started to have severe chest pains, while my older daughter had headaches,” Thompson said. “My husband had GI bleeding, and I had become very fatigued with headaches and skin problems.”
Listen to Thompson explain what her family experienced: