Rabbit Hole Quiz: Arsenic

Mar 16, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Molly MacRae

Arsenic is fascinating stuff. I fell down a rabbit hole of research chock-full of arsenic while writing my latest Highland Bookshop Mystery–Argyles and Arsenic. The book and I were lucky to make it back out alive. For your own poisonous pleasure, I’ve devised a quiz on all things arsenic.

1. When heated, what does arsenic gas smell like?

A. Bacon
B. Garlic
C. Anchovies
D. Nothing

2. In what year were pesticides and insecticides containing arsenic banned in the U.S.?

A. 1878
B. 1945
C. 1980
D. 2002

3. During the 1800s, arsenic was used to color which commodity green?

A. Wallpaper
B. Blancmange
C. Cake icing
D. Artificial flowers
E. Ball gowns
F. Furniture fabric
G. Socks
H. Curtains
I. Lampshades
J. Children’s clothing
K. Children’s toys
L. Carpets
M. Hats
N. Linoleum
O. Books
P. All of the above and more!

4. Arsenic is:

A. An alloy
B. A mineral
C. A rock
D. An element

5. Production of wood pressure-treated with copper-chromium-arsenate stopped in what year?

A. 1970
B. 1995
C. 2003
D. 2012

6. What does arsenic taste like when stirred into your coffee or porridge?

A. Nothing
B. Vaguely salty
C. Vaguely sweet
D. Almonds

7. True or False: Arsenic can never be destroyed.

8. What malady was treated with arsenic in the 1800s?

A. Leprosy
B. Headache
C. Cholera
D. Tongue ulcers
E. Angina
F. Psoriasis
G. Scabies
H. Asthma
I. Malaria
J. Menstrual problems
K. Gastric ulcers
L. Anemia
M. All of the above and more!

9. True or False: Accidental pudding poisonings were frequently reported in the 1800s.

10. Why is arsenic appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day?

A. Shamrocks contain arsenic
B. Leprechauns are immune to arsenic
C. Arsenic makes a lovely green color
D. Corned Beef and Cabbage is the only known antidote for arsenic poisoning

Molly MacRae

Quiz Answers:
1. B. When heated, arsenic gas smells like garlic. Mmmm, garlic.
2. C. Pesticides and insecticides containing arsenic were banned in the U.S. in 1980.
3. P (for poison). All of the above and more (some by accident)! Not only were the consumers of these products at risk but think of the factory workers exposed to arsenic daily.
4. D. Arsenic is element #33. It occurs in many minerals, usually in combination with sulfur and metals, but also as a pure elemental crystal.
5. C. Production of that green-tinged, pressure-treated wood, found in decks and other outdoor DIY projects, didn’t stop until 2003. Some of that wood is still around. Incorrect disposal of it – by burning for instance – leaves the arsenic behind. There’s enough arsenic in five tablespoons of pressure-treated wood to kill a 1,100-pound cow (which the cow might lick because of the salts also in the ash). One tablespoon can kill a 150-pound human. Moral of that story: Yes, I like cooking. No, I didn’t just give you a recipe.
6. A. Arsenic tastes like nothing. Mix it into the sugar bowl and your victim will never notice. And no, this isn’t a recipe, either.
7. True. Arsenic is an element and elements can’t be destroyed. Arsenic can only change its form or become attached to or separated from other particles.
8. M (for malicious medicine). All of the above and more! Not all medical uses of arsenic are quackery, though. Arsenic trioxide is an anti-neoplastic drug that slows or stops the growth of some types of cancer cells.
9. True. It pays to eye pudding with suspicion.
10. C. Arsenic makes a lovely green color, hence the lovely green cover for Argyles and Arsenic.

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The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes books for Annie’s Fiction and Guideposts.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Interesting!! I just knew it is still in rice in very small quantities.

    • It is in rice. So creepy.

  2. Thanks having me as a guest, Kings River Life!

  3. Fascinating and scary. And deeply sad, considering all the various ways listed above that people were coming in contact with arsenic.

  4. Thanks for the fun quiz! Got the years all wrong. Sheesh. Better up my Google game!

  5. This book is in my “to be read” stash.
    Can’t wait to get to it after seeing the quiz.


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