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Environ Sci Technol. 2003 Apr 15;37(8):1515-20.

Environmental fate of roxarsone in poultry litter. Part II. Mobility of arsenic in soils amended with poultry litter.

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Branch of Regional Research, Central Region, U.S. Geological Survey, MS 408, P.O. Box 25046, Denver, Colorado 80225, USA.


Poultry litter often contains arsenic as a result of organo-arsenical feed additives. When the poultry litter is applied to agricultural fields, the arsenic is released to the environment and may result in increased arsenic in surface and groundwater and increased uptake by plants. The release of arsenic from poultry litter, litter-amended soils, and soils without litter amendment was examined by extraction with water and strong acids (HCI and HNO3). The extracts were analyzed for As, C, P, Cu, Zn, and Fe. Copper, zinc, and iron are also poultry feed additives. Soils with a known history of litter application and controlled application rate of arsenic-containing poultry litter were obtained from the University of Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station. Soils from fields with long-term application of poultry litter were obtained from a tilled field on the Delmarva Peninsula (MD) and an untilled Oklahoma pasture. Samples from an adjacent forest or nearby pasture that had no history of litter application were used as controls. Depth profiles were sampled for the Oklahoma pasture soils. Analysis of the poultry litter showed that 75% of the arsenic was readily soluble in water. Extraction of soils shows that weakly bound arsenic mobilized by water correlates positively with C, P, Cu, and Zn in amended fields and appears to come primarily from the litter. Strongly bound arsenic correlates positively with Fe in amended fields and suggests sorption or coprecipitation of As and Fe in the soil column.

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