The chemicals present in the mattress react with the fungus and produces phosphine, arsine, and stibine.
It is precipitated as the metal from solutions of its salts by the metals of the alkalis and alkaline earths, zinc, iron, copper, &c. In its chemical affinities it resembles arsenic and antimony; an important distinction is that it forms no hydrogen compound analogous to arsine and stibine.
In its general behaviour it resembles arsine, burning with a violet flame and being decomposed by heat into its constituent elements.
Arsenic trihydride (arsine or arseniuretted hydrogen), AsH3, is formed by decomposing zinc arsenide with dilute sulphuric acid; by the action of nascent hydrogen on arsenious compounds, and by the electrolysis of solutions of arsenious and arsenic acids; it is also a product of the action of organic matter on many arsenic compounds.
Chlorine, bromine and iodine decompose arsine readily, the action being most violent in the case of chlorine.