But an organism found in the mud of California's Mono Lake can live and grow entirely off this deadly chemical - raising hope that similar creatures could exist in even more hostile environments, far from planet Earth.
" It is hard to miss the term "raising hope" in this piece because that's what the discovery is being milked for by NASA and other organizations.
The old one small step for man cliché has emerged yet once again and is being followed by one giant leap of the imagination.
In spite of the handful of alleged examples of missing links between man and beast we are still waiting for some evidence of say, a couple hundred or just a few thousand of the rest of the missing links that should abound just about everywhere on earth.
Low estimates would have the remains of all the missing links stacked in a heap that would reach to the moon and back.
You remember the moon where the giant step for mankind took place? But like the original exaggeration the missing links in the grand opera of evolution remain missing and the means by which to prove science's latest claim remains missing as well.
The dismal failure to account for the actual origins of life on earth is anything but one small step for mankind.
Even with the jury still out on that grandiose pseudo scientific bit of hyperbole we now dare to cast our imaginations to the heavens at the discovery of an arsenic utilizing microbe found in one of California's many lakes.
Fox News aired the announcement with most of the revered scientist paneled and ready to attest to their new findings but had to make a long pause as the names of each scientist was appendaged with a very long list of letters, positions and educational backgrounds which of course was read in full.
Was NASA buying time to prep the rockets that would be sent to check it out in say, some planet about 50 million light years from earth? Yeah, that's hopeful too.
There is little doubt that while NASA looks to the arsenic hungry creature of the lake every night upwards of 60 percent of the world's children go to bed without so much as a morsel of bread.
We can't advise them to eat cake and unlike the California microbes they can't assimilate arsenic.
Will the learned scientists forgive us if we seem indifferent to their latest rant? The "blessed hope" of the bible's Titus 2:13 is still scoffed at by most empiricists but the believers remain undaunted.
Best estimates for the return of the Lord among eschatologists' are between 2 and 10 years from now.
Setting aside my own bias for the eschatological view, the question of which group will be first to see proof of their beliefs is a no brainer.
Oddly, Bible thumpers have never denied that there is life beyond earth.
They have for known reasons concluded that it is extra-celestial not extraterrestrial life.
With over 70 percent of Americans believing in the return of the Lord we might as well just relax and not get too spooked about some poison eating microbes in a lake in California.
In case you are wondering the lake is not in the Hollywood area where other species have been known to survive on a diet or chemical input of toxic and deadly poisons where they not only survived the poisons but managed to spread them around profusely.
Just for the record, Lucrezia Borgia was a real person who allegedly poisoned a lot of people with arsenic and not just a figure in an opera.
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13)