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Water Res. 2014 Jan 1;48:156-69. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.09.016. Epub 2013 Sep 20.

Arsenic species in drinking water wells in the USA with high arsenic concentrations.

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U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH 45268, United States. Electronic address:


Arsenic exists in ground water as oxyanions having two oxidation states, As(III) and As(V), and its concentrations vary widely and regionally across the United States (USA). Because of the difference in toxicity and removability of As(III) and As(V), arsenic speciation is important in the selection and design of an arsenic treatment systems. Identifying the arsenic species is also helpful in explaining and understanding the behavior and characteristics of arsenic in the environment. Although laboratory methods exist for speciating arsenic in water samples, the lack of a universal preservation method has led to the predominant use of field separation methods that are somewhat complex and costly. Thus, very few studies have incorporated arsenic speciation. A U.S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA) arsenic treatment research program provided a unique opportunity to speciate the naturally occurring arsenic in 65 well waters scattered across the USA with many of them being speciated monthly for up to three years. Speciation test data showed that 31 wells had predominantly As(V), 29 had predominantly As(III) and five had a mixture of both. A general pattern was found where As(III) was the dominant species in midwest ground waters where anoxic conditions and elevated iron concentrations prevailed and the well waters in the east, west and farwest had either As(III) or As(V) as the dominant species. The monthly (12-36) speciation tests results at many of these sites also found no major changes in arsenic species over time.


Arsenic; Drinking water; Speciation: well water

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