Arsenic speciation and reactivity in poultry litter

Yuji Arai, A. Lanzirotti, S. Sutton, J. A. Davis, D. L. Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 synchrotronbased 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 x 850 μm) associated with Ca, Cu, and Fe and to a lesser extent with S, CI, and Zn. Postedge 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-a mended 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 soilwater environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4083-4090
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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