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Sara Baldvins CHEM 4101 December 9, 2011. Geochemical Mobilization of Arsenic to Ground Water. Greatest Mass Poisoning in History. Naturally occurring arsenic (As) contamination in ground water is causing widespread health problems. 35 million in Bangladesh and

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greatest mass poisoning in history
Greatest Mass Poisoning in History
  • Naturally occurring arsenic (As) contamination in ground water is causing widespread health problems.
  • 35 million in Bangladesh and

6 million in Bengal are at risk.

  • As poisoning has also been

reported in China, Argentina,

Chile, Mexico, Thailand, and Taiwan.

analytical problem
Analytical Problem


  • The speciation of arsenic in soils impacts how mobile the arsenic is which contributes to the high concentrations found in the ground water of some regions.

Problem Summary

  • Certain soils easily mobilize As to the ground water.
  • In these soils certain hydrological, geological, and chemical conditions make arsenic more mobile.
sample prep sequential extraction
Sample Prep: Sequential Extraction

Once the soil is ground to the appropriate particle size the reagents will be applied stepwise as follows:

hydride generator
Hydride Generator

The are large interferences when using AAS to detect As so a Hydride Generator must be used.

atomic absorption spectrometer
Atomic Absorption Spectrometer

For the PerkinElmer PinAAcle 900T:

  • With HG precision ≤ 4.5% for As
  • LOD ≤ 5 ppb
  • LOQ approx. 1 ppb
  • X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure
  • The absorption edge corresponding to the liberation of a core electron from an element will exhibit several identifiable features which change depending on the chemical environment of the element being probed. 
  • Answers questions about the oxidation state, coordination, and spin state of the probed element.
  • Multiple methods are generally required for speciation analysis.
  • Method choice is highly dependant on operating budget since so many samples are needed.
  • HG-AAS is cheap and effective and a good method for bulk analysis.
  • XANES adds validity to the HG-AAS findings by providing an exact picture of the structures in the sample.
  • Berg, J. A., 2008. Hydrogeology of the Surficial and Buried AquifersRegionalHydrogeological Assessment, RHA- 6, part B, Plates 1-6. State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Waters.
  • Erickson, Melinda L., and Randal J. Barnes. "Glacial Sediment Causing Regional-Scale Elevated Arsenic in Drinking Water." Ground Water 43(2005a): 796-805.
  • Keon, N.E., C.H. Swartz, D.J. Brabander, C. Harvey, and H.F. Hemond. "Validation of an Arsenic Sequential Extraction Method for Evaluating Mobility in Sediments." Environmental Science and Technology. 35(2001): 2778-2784 .
  • Smedley, P. L. and Kinniburgh, D. G., 2002. A review of the source, behaviour and distribution of arsenic in natural waters. Applied Geochemistry 17, 517-568.