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Arsenic: An Abundant Natural Poison
(Released March 2009)

  by Andreas Saldivar & Vicki Soto  


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News Articles


    Xinhua News Agency 02-18-2009

    KATHMANDU, Feb 18, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Contamination of Arsenic in drinking water has been found above the standards in 12 districts of south plain land of Terai region in Nepal, Nepali national news agency RSS reported on Wednesday.

    The contamination findings are above the World Health Organization (WHO) and Nepali standards, according to a latest study by Nepal Red Cross Society and Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), the news agency RSS said.

    The tests have found that Arsenic content in water in 70 Village Development Committees (VDC) of 12 districts was above 100 ppb (parts per billion). . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's AP Science

  2. New resin getting a hold on arsenic-tainted water regions in Idaho

    Zach Hagadone Zach Hagadone The Idaho Business Review 02-09-2009
    Beau Ziemer had to go a mile out of New Plymouth before he found water that met arsenic standards from the EPA. All three of the city's wells had been testing above the agency's level of 10 parts per billion, and Ziemer, the public works superintendent, said blending that water with a cleaner source would bring the supply within compliance.

    He found a well southwest of town with arsenic levels of 5 ppb, and a nearby monitoring well came back at 2 ppb. If both wells are drawing from the same aquifer the town of 1,400 is in luck. The clean water would be pumped into a tank, piped and mixed with arsenic-laden water and distributed throughout the town's system to about 3,000 people. An alternative would be to build a treatment plant at a cost of $10 million. As it stands, the blending operation is expected to cost about $3 million.

    "We're crossing our fingers, and from the geology we've seen, we're confident we're in the same aquifer," he said. "But it is a gamble, and if it doesn't work out, then Plan B is going to be something like one of those treatment facilities. And who's going to foot the bill for that?"

    New Plymouth's dilemma is one faced by cities throughout Idaho, but, because of its geology, the southern part of the state is most susceptible. Arsenic occurs naturally in rock formations common to the region and groundwater can carry it into aquifers, streams and rivers. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's AP Science

  3. Proposed Wal-Mart tract polluted: Lead, arsenic: Company tests show elevated levels of chemicals in North Whitehall

    Andrew C. Martel The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa., McClatchy - Tribune Business News 01-21-2009
    William Palkovics described Wal-Mart's plans to clean up the contaminated areas before a rare joint meeting of the township's board of supervisors and planning commission. Most of the arsenic and lead levels were below the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's standards, although some test results came back at more than twice the level deemed safe. Still, Palkovics said he thought the problem, which was probably caused by leftover pesticides that were sprayed decades ago on orchards, was "manageable."

    "These are not, I would say, super high magnitudes," he said.

    The cleanup plan, which would begin if supervisors approve Wal- Mart's development, has two parts, Palkovics said. First, crews would mix the contaminated soil with clean soil to lower the concentrations of lead and arsenic. Then, they would cover the contaminated soil with clean soil and pave the parking lot over it.

    About 25 people attended the meeting, fewer than at previous meetings. A band of residents has hired an attorney to fight the proposed shopping center. The group filed a lawsuit last fall appealing the Board of Supervisors' July decision to give preliminary approval to the shopping center.

    Wal-Mart tested the land for contamination in 2005 and 2006, before it bought the property along Route 309, said site engineer Bud Newton. The retailer's plan is not being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, because the agency has not ordered Wal-Mart to do any cleanup and it does not have jurisdiction over private soil tests, said EPA coordinator Rich Fetzer. . . .

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's AP Science

Historical Newspapers

    The Observer (1791- 2003). London (UK): Apr 2, 1815. pg. 4, 1 pgs

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    The Observer (1791- 2003). London (UK): Mar 26, 1843. pg. 3, 1 pgs

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  3. POISON AFRICAN WELLS; Gen. Botha, Making Charge, Says Germans Admit Practice. DISEASE GERMS ALSO USED Boer Commander Quotes Letter From German Officer Declaring Orders Were to Infect All Water Supplies -- Arsenical Cattle Wash Used -- Communications Are Read in Parliament.
    The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: May 6, 1915. pg. 3, 1 pgs Abstract (Summary)
    London, May 5. -- In support of charges that the Germans had poisoned wells in the southwest African campaign, Lewis Harcourt, secretary of state for the colonies, tonight issued a communication, in which he says that when Gen. Louis Botha, commander of the Union of South Africa forces, occupied Swakop-mund he discovered that six wells had been poisoned by an arsenical cattle wash.

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    The Irish Times (1874-Current File). Dublin, Ireland: Mar 7, 1935. pg. 2, 1 pgs

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  5. Personal Health; Poisons In Food, Water and Air
    WILLIAM BRADY. The Hartford Courant (1923-1984). Hartford, Conn.: Jan 31, 1950. pg. 6, 1 pgs

    Abstract (Summary)
    The widespread use of poisonous chemicals in the never-ending war of man against insects makes it inevitable that some of thos poison wil finds its way into food and drink. Arsenic and lead appear prominently in the list of chemicals used an pesticides and these like most other chemicals used for the purpose are poisonous to man.

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Taken from ProQuest's Historical Newspapers.
  1. Arsenic removal effectiveness of iron oxide-based fibrous adsorbents and stability of granular iron oxide media

    by Kumar, Arun, Ph.D., Drexel University, 2008, 314 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    This study focuses on two objectives to improve arsenic adsorptive capacities of iron oxide-based adsorbents. The first objective was to improve arsenic removal effectiveness of iron oxide-based adsorbent by investigating the potential of four types of fibrous materials, polypropylene, polyester, fiberglass, and cellulose for their ability to retain iron coatings and to remove arsenate. Arsenate adsorption densities were highest for iron-oxide coated fiberglass and cellulose, suggesting that these fibrous materials may offer advantages over iron-oxide-coated sand. Arsenate mass-transfer was observed to be limited by the external mass-transfer resistance initially and intra-particle mass-transfer resistance subsequently, which could be improved by introducing additional reactive sites on the fibers surface. Further experiments are warranted to make these coated fibers, particularly iron-oxide-coated fiberglass fibers, competitive with other commercially available arsenic adsorbents.

    The second objective of this work was to understand the combined effects of near-neutral solution pH levels, ion types, and concentrations typical of an arsenic contaminated groundwater on phase transformation of an iron oxide-based media. Batch studies were conducted using a granular iron hydroxide media and combined effects of time, pH, and ions were studied by observing changes in mineralogy of media and extent of crystallinity of iron oxide media. No major iron oxide phase change was observed during the aging studies and arsenic and other ions were not observed to be introduced in the XRD spectra of different iron oxide samples. Initial solution pH and aging time appear to be the significant factors affecting the extent of crystallization of different iron oxide samples, and the extent of crystallinity was observed to increase with aging time and low solution pH. The extent of crystallization of iron oxide was observed to decrease for samples, aged in the presence of 0.3 mg/L ferrous iron ions and increase during the intermediate pH adjustment studies. Further research work is required to understand the effects of ferrous iron and arsenic ions at near-neutral solution pH at room temperature for longer periods (i.e., > 1 years) on the crystalline structure of the iron oxide media, and their influence on its overall adsorptive capacity.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's
    Dissertations & Theses Database

  2. Bioaccumulation of arsenic, chromium, and lead by the barnacle Balanus eburneus (Gould, 1841)

    by Lourenco, Manuel Goulart, Ph.D., East Carolina University, 2008, 322 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    Estuarine barnacles of the species Balanus eburneus were evaluated under controlled conditions for two seasons (11/21/2003-1/20/2004 and 8/11/2004-10/10/2004) as to their accumulation and depuration patterns of three heavy metals. Barnacles were exposed for 30 days to dissolved arsenic, chromium, and lead in artificial seawater. Barnacles were then depurated for 30 additional days under clean conditions.

    Generally, barnacle controls indicated no statistical significance between tissue concentration and time during the uptake and depuration phases of the study. Accumulation of study metals in a linear fashion was strongest for chromium, followed by arsenic, and weak for lead. Compared to shells, soft tissues were the superior heavy metal accumulators.

    Soft tissue and shell accumulation of chromium indicated no evidence of reaching equilibrium with seawater concentrations. Results for arsenic were inconclusive between seasons while lead indicated an initial rapid uptake followed by a decline (i.e., equilibrium).

    Though results for chromium conflicted between seasons; overall, barnacle soft tissues and shells lost accumulated heavy metals during the study's depuration phase.

    Tissue uptake rates were generally greatest when barnacles were exposed to the highest concentration of heavy metals and decreased as animals were exposed to lower concentrations. Uptake rates for soft tissues were generally one to two orders of magnitude greater than those for shells. Ratios of heavy metal uptake between soft tissues and shells indicated that soft tissues accumulated more chromium and arsenic while shells accumulated more lead.

    The concentration of heavy metals dissolved in seawater was found to have a stronger influence on respective heavy metal concentrations in barnacle tissues than when compared to time. Heavy metal concentrations in B. eburneus' tissues were strongly correlated with dissolved seawater concentrations, especially for arsenic and chromium.

    B. eburneus' uptake and depuration profiles for arsenic, chromium, and lead were studied under controlled conditions. Though additional work is needed, results suggest that barnacles of the species B. eburneus may be useful indicators of heavy metal bioavailability, especially for chromium and arsenic, if precautions are taken in the design, collection, and evaluation of experimental data.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's
    Dissertations & Theses Database

  3. Chemical interactions between iron and arsenic in water

    by Johnston, Richard, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2008, 159 pages

    Abstract (Summary)
    This dissertation presents results from a series of experiments involving precipitation of ferrous arsenate, redox reactions between various Fe/As couples, and competitive adsorption. Batch and column experiments were made and interpreted quantitatively using geochemical modeling.

    A new solubility constant was calculated for symplesite, a ferrous arsenate mineral, and geochemical modeling suggests that some arsenic-impacted groundwaters in Bangladesh are super-saturated with respect to this mineral. Oxidation experiments demonstrated that oxygenation of Fe(II) is much faster in the presence of inorganic buffers than when non-complexing organic buffers are used. Fe(II) oxidation was largely unaffected by the presence of the hydroxyl radical scavenger propanol. These findings call into question the classic formulation of Fe(II) oxygenation, and long-accepted kinetic rate constants.

    During the oxygenation of Fe(II), As(III) competes with Fe(II) for reactive oxidizing species. As(III) oxidation is reduced in the presence of inorganic ligands, most likely because these ligands increase the reactivity of dissolved Fe(II).

    Competitive adsorption experiments using goethite demonstrated relatively minor competitive effects between As(III) and As(V), and between As(III) and Fe(II). Batch experiments showed that much more Fe(II) was removed from solution than As(III) or As(V) after contacting the goethite surface. This could be explained by the existence of sites which can adsorb Fe(II) but not As. However, surface complexation modeling with this approach could not capture some of the aspects of multi-component adsorption. An alternate explanation could be that upon adsorption Fe(II) transfers an electron into the bulk surface of the goethite, regenerating Fe(III) at the surface and allowing more adsorption to take place.

    Column experiments were performed to simulate in situ removal of arsenic and iron, and demonstrated that an alternating push-pull configuration can lead to consistent retardation of both solutes. A 'ripening' effect, whereby the in situ process becomes increasingly efficient as more Fe(III) is emplaced on sediment surfaces, was observed at pH 8, where the process increased the amount of iron oxide in the column by more than 50%, even though the column iron oxide concentration was lower than in naturally arsenic-impacted aquifers such as Bangladesh, implying that in situ treatment in such settings is feasible.

    For full-text documents see ProQuest's
    Dissertations & Theses Database