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Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater of Bangladesh: Perspectives on Geochemical, Microbial and Anthropogenic Issues

Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear Reactor, Apartado 21, E.N. 10, Sacavém 2686-953, Portugal
Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana, Private Bag 285, Maun, Botswana
Department of Geology, Niigata University, Ikarashi 2, Niigata 950-2181, Japan
Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Mineral Resources, Charles University in Prague, Albertov 6, Prague 2 128 43, Czech Republic
Center for Environmental Studies (CES), Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), 1000 W Cary Street, Richmond, VA 23059, USA
Department of Environmental Science, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka-1342, Bangladesh
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2011, 3(4), 1050-1076;
Received: 14 October 2011 / Accepted: 19 October 2011 / Published: 11 November 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inorganic Pollution of Water Environment)
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A groundwater, sediment and soil chemistry and mineralogical study has been performed to investigate the sources and mobilization process of Arsenic (As) in shallow aquifers of Bangladesh. The groundwater from the shallow aquifers is characterized by high concentrations of Arsenic (47.5–216.8 µg/L), iron (0.85–5.83 mg/L), and phosphate, along with high electrical conductivity (EC). The groundwater has both very low oxidation-reduction potential (Eh) and dissolved oxygen (DO) values indicating reducing conditions. By contrast, the deep aquifers and surface waters (pond, canal) have very low concentrations of Arsenic ( < 6 µg/L), iron (0.12–0.39 mg/L), and phosphate along with a relatively low EC. Furthermore, the values of Eh and DO are high, indicating oxic to suboxic conditions. Arsenic is inversely correlated with Eh values in the upper aquifer, whereas no relationship in the deeper aquifer is observed. These results suggest that As mobilization is clearly linked to the development of reducing conditions. The clayey silt, enriched in Fe, Mn, Al oxides and organic matter, and deposited in the middle unit of shallow aquifers, contains moderately high concentrations of As, whereas the sediments of deep aquifers and silty mud surface soils from paddy fields and ponds contain a low content of As (Daudkandi area). Arsenic is strongly correlated with the concentrations of Fe, Mn and Al oxides in the core samples from the Daudkandi and Marua areas. Arsenic is present in the oxide phase of Fe and Mn, phyllosilicate minerals and in organic matter in sediments. This study suggests that adsorption or precipitation of As-rich Fe oxyhydroxide on the surface or inner sites of biotite might be responsible for As concentrations found in altered biotite minerals by Seddique et al. Microbially or geochemically mediated reductive dissolution of Fe oxyhydroxides is the main mechanism for As release. The reducing conditions are caused by respiratory decomposition of organic matter, either sedimentary or labile organic C. The process can be accelerated by agricultural activity and domestic organic wastes. An agricultural fertilizer can directly contribute As to groundwater as well as promote As mobilization by ion-exchange with phosphorus. View Full-Text
Keywords: arsenic in groundwater; Fe and Mn oxyhydroxide; organic carbon; biotite; microbial role; agricultural activity arsenic in groundwater; Fe and Mn oxyhydroxide; organic carbon; biotite; microbial role; agricultural activity

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Anawar, H.M.; Akai, J.; Mihaljevič, M.; Sikder, A.M.; Ahmed, G.; Tareq, S.M.; Rahman, M.M. Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater of Bangladesh: Perspectives on Geochemical, Microbial and Anthropogenic Issues. Water 2011, 3, 1050-1076.

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