Is Arsenic Detectable in Autopsy?

arsenic detectable in autopsy

Poisoning is a common cause of death. Many people die accidentally from poisoning. Even though poison is not the common choice of weapon for homicide, it is not unheard of. According to statistics, poisoning only amounts to a handful of deaths in the total number of criminal homicides. However, most forensic experts disagree. It is believed by most forensic toxicologists that homicidal poisoning is a common mode of killing but one that is not easily detected which is why the statistics can be wrong.

In fact, death by poisoning is rarely ruled as a criminal homicide while most go as “undetermined”. The common reason for this is that clinical autopsies are done by pathologists who are not consciously looking for malicious intent. There are so many poisons that detecting one is almost unlikely unless there is a specific doubt. One of these poisons is Arsenic.

All You Need to Know About Arsenic Poisoning

Arsenic is a readily available poison that does not have any taste. This makes it easy to be ingested into food and beverages without the victim knowing it. When arsenic is ingested, arsenic moves into the blood very quickly. It can be traced in hair, nails, and skin since it is through blood. In some time, traces of the poison also get settled into the bones.

The symptoms of arsenic poisoning are not vague and can be seen regularly. Some common signs of arsenic poisoning are:

  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loose Motions

While these are only signs of small doses of ingestion, larger doses can even lead to convulsions. This can make the victim go into shock in a few hours and die a painful death or lead to delayed demise due to kidney failure. Signs of slow arsenic poisoning are abdominal pain and severe hair loss.

Even though arsenic is detectable in autopsies, it takes a sense of direction to be able to do that. Unless there is a possibility or suspicion of a specific poison, the chances of discovery are almost none. Due to the symptoms, most of such cases are signed off as renal failure. In most slow poisoning cases, malpractice is rarely considered since kidney failure is a common problem and can happen due to various reasons.

This is also why it is a common mode of killing for individuals who are looking for undetectable poisons. In recent years, arsenic has become a weapon of choice for criminals due to its easy availability and undetectable taste. Homicidal poisoning cases that do not raise the usual flags of foul play are rarely investigated with formal intent, precisely why arsenic poisoning is one of the best methods for those who choose murder by poison.

How do Poisons or Toxins enter the body?


In simple words, arsenic is detectable in autopsies. However, unless there is suspicion of wrongdoing, most cases go unnoticed and are ruled out as death by natural or undetermined causes. To get more informative posts like this, follow The Carlson Company.

The Carlson Company offers high Quality & Professional Poison tests & Toxin Analysis with Forensic experts. We offer complete post-mortem poison testing facilities with court-admissible reports. To get a poison test done, call us now on (866) 889-3410