Arsenic

Domestic Production and Use: Arsenic trioxide and primary arsenic metal have not been produced in the United States since 1985. The principal use for arsenic trioxide was for the production of arsenic acid used in the formulation of chromated copper arsenide (CCA) preservatives for the pressure treating of lumber used primarily in nonresidential applications. Three companies produced CCA preservatives in the United States in 2017. Ammunition used by the U.S. military was hardened by the addition of less than 1% arsenic metal, and the grids in lead-acid storage batteries were strengthened by the addition of arsenic metal. Arsenic metal was also used as an antifriction additive for bearings, to harden lead shot, and in clip-on wheel weights. Arsenic compounds were used in herbicides and insecticides. High-purity arsenic (99.9999%) was used to produce gallium-arsenide (GaAs) semiconductors for solar cells, space research, and telecommunications. Arsenic also was used for germanium-arsenide-selenide specialty optical materials. Indium-gallium-arsenide (InGaAs) was used for short-wave infrared technology. The value of arsenic compounds and metal imported domestically in 2017 was estimated to be about $6.9 million.

Events, Trends, and Issues: China and Morocco continued to be the leading global producers of arsenic trioxide, accounting for 88% of estimated world production and supplying almost all of United States imports of arsenic trioxide in 2017. China was the leading world producer of arsenic metal and supplied about 90% of United States arsenic metal imports in 2017.

Given that arsenic metal has not been produced domestically since 1985, it is likely that only a small portion of the material reported by the U.S. Census Bureau as arsenic exports was pure arsenic metal, and most of the material that has been reported under this category reflects the gross weight of compounds, alloys, and residues containing arsenic. Therefore, the estimated consumption reported under salient U.S. statistics reflects only imports of arsenic products.

High-purity (99.9999%) arsenic metal was used to produce GaAs, indium-arsenide, and InGaAs semiconductors that were used in biomedical, communications, computer, electronics, and photovoltaic applications. The 2020 projected outlook for global GaAs device sales is estimated at $7.6 billion. See the Gallium chapter for additional details.

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