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Arsenic speciation and reactivity in poultry litter

January 1, 2003

Recent U.S. government action to lower the maximum concentration levels (MCL) of total arsenic (As) (10 ppb) in drinking water has raised serious concerns about the agricultural use of As-containing biosolids such as poultry litter (PL). In this study, solid-state chemical speciation, desorbability, and total levels of As in PL and long-term amended soils were investigated using novel synchrotron-based probing techniques (microfocused (μ) synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (SXRF) and μ-X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) spectroscopies) coupled with chemical digestion and batch experiments. The total As levels in the PL were as high as ≈50 mg kg-1, and As(II/III and V) was always concentrated in abundant needle-shaped microscopic particles (≈20 μm × 850 μm) associated with Ca, Cu, and Fe and to a lesser extent with S, Cl, and Zn. Post-edge XANES features of litter particles are dissimilar to those of the organo-As(V) compound in poultry feed (i.e., roxarsone), suggesting possible degradation/transformation of roxarsone in the litter and/or in poultry digestive tracts. The extent of As desorption from the litter increased with increasing time and pH from 4.5 to 7, but at most 15% of the total As was released after 5 d at pH 7, indicating the presence of insoluble phases and/or strongly retained soluble compounds. No significant As accumulation (<15 mg kg-1) was found in long-term PL-amended agricultural surface soils. This suggests that As in the PL may have undergone surface and subsurface transport processes. Our research results raise concerns about long-term PL amendment effects on As contamination in surrounding soil−water environments.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2003
Title Arsenic speciation and reactivity in poultry litter
DOI 10.1021/es0340580
Authors Y. Arai, A. Lanzirotti, S. Sutton, J.A. Davis, D.L. Sparks
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology
Index ID 70025170
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program