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Associated topic: Heavy metals

Emissions monitoring period: since 1990

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2017


Source of the pollutant

Arsenic (As) emissions of human origin are released by a) trace arsenic in solid mineral fuels and heavy fuel oil and b) some raw materials used in processes such as glass production and ferrous or non-ferrous metals production.
Arsenic is found naturally in the upper layer of the Earth's crust. It is released into the atmosphere by rock weathering, oxidation-reduction reactions, volcanic activity and forest fires. These As emissions are not assessed by CITEPA at present, because of insufficient data on potential emissions and a lack of bibliographic references.


Effect of the pollutant

Arsenic can enter living organisms by inhalation, ingestion and absorption through the skin or mucous membranes. It then enters the bloodstream through any membrane. Within the next 24 hours, the As passes from the bloodstream into different tissues, especially the liver, kidneys, skin, spleen and lungs. After several weeks, different processes cause the arsenic to reduce cell respiration, which can produce lesions in the kidneys and liver. Several workplace studies of exposure to arsenic (and/or its by-products) by inhalation have shown the appearance of skin lesions and digestive disorders, cancerous growths in the respiratory apparatus and an increased risk of death from cardiovascular dysfunction. The European Union has classified some arsenic by-products as known human carcinogens.

Heavy metals can be toxic for the biosphere. Most being under particulate shape, they accumulate in the water, the grounds, the food and the air.


Classification of sub-sectors* with the highest emission levels in 2015

Classification Sub-sectors Share of sub-sector in total national emissions in mainland France
1 Residential sector 21%
2 Non-metallic minerals, building materials 17%
3 Ferrous metals production 13%
4 Diesel-fuelled passenger cars 12%
5 Diesel-fuelled heavy-duty vehicles (including buses and coaches) 5.8%

*: one sector out of six (energy transformation, manufacturing industry, residential/tertiary, agriculture/forestry, road transport and other transport) is broken down into sub-sectors.


Emissions and trends

Minimum observed: 5.2 t in 2015
Maximum observed: 20 t in 1991
Emissions in 2015: 5.2 t
Trends 2015/1990: -70.0%
Trends 2015/maximum: -74.0%
Trends 2015/minimum: 0%

Measurement unit : t (tonne)
Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Graph As 17

Graph Legende sans UTCFv2

Source CITEPA / SECTEN format – April 2017

Tab As 17

(*) Following UNECE/NEC definitions : emissions classified "except total" are not included, i.e. emissions from international maritime, emissions from domestic and international air transport cruise (≥ 1000 m), emissions from agriculture and forestry biogenic sources and emissions from non-anthropogenic sources.
(e) preliminary estimate



Arsenic is emitted by all sectors but in variable proportions. The main contributing sector is...  (to read more, consult the SECTEN report online via your login and password)

Data source: CITEPA / SECTEN format - April 2017