Arsenic is a carcinogen to both humans and animals. Arsenicals have been associated with cancers of the skin, lung, and bladder. Clinical manifestations of chronic arsenic poisoning include non-cancer end point of hyper- and hypo-pigmentation, keratosis, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Epidemiological evidence indicates that arsenic concentration exceeding 50 mug l(-1) in the drinking water is not public health protective. The current WHO recommended guideline value for arsenic in drinking water is 10 mug l(-1), whereas many developing countries are still having a value of 50 mug 1(-1). It has been estimated that tens of millions of people are. at risk exposing to excessive levels of arsenic from both contaminated water and arsenic-bearing coal from natural sources. The global health implication and possible intervention strategies were also discussed in this review article. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.