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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Apr 1;45(7):2783-9. doi: 10.1021/es103793y. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Photoinduced oxidation of arsenite to arsenate on ferrihydrite.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, United States.


The photochemistry of an aqueous suspension of the iron oxyhydroxide, ferrihydrite, in the presence of arsenite has been investigated using attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES), and solution phase analysis. Both ATR-FTIR and XANES show that the exposure of ferrihydrite to arsenite in the dark leads to no change in the As oxidation state, but the exposure of this arsenite-bearing surface, which is in contact with pH 5 water, to light leads to the conversion of the majority of the adsorbed arsenite to the As(V) bearing species, arsenate. Analysis of the solution phase shows that ferrous iron is released into solution during the oxidation of arsenite. The photochemical reaction, however, shows the characteristics of a self-terminating reaction in that there is a significant suppression of this redox chemistry before 10% of the total iron making up the ferrihydrite partitions into solution as ferrous iron. The self-terminating behavior exhibited by this photochemical arsenite/ferrihydrite system is likely due to the passivation of the ferrihydrite surface by the strongly bound arsenate product.

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