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Issue 3, 2009
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Impact of irrigation with arsenic-rich groundwater on soils and crops

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The study was carried out in an intensively cultivated agricultural area of central Spain where high arsenic (As) concentrations in groundwater were previously reported. The concentrations and distribution of As in soils and crops (wheat, potato, sugar beet and carrot) were determined to know the effect of irrigation with As-rich groundwater in the agricultural fields, and to estimate its impact on the food chain contamination. Irrigation water shows high As concentrations ranging between 38 and 136 µg/l. Total As contents in the studied agricultural soils are higher than 10 mg/kg exceeding the As content in two control areas and the results of this study reflect that irrigation with As-rich groundwater led to the elevated As levels in the agricultural soils. Total As concentration in soils of a sugar beet plot (36 mg/kg) is higher than that found in soils of the less intensively watered field (11 mg/kg), and more than 3.5 times higher than that in the soils of the control area irrigated with uncontaminated water (<10 mg/kg). Water soluble As in soils ranges between 0.03 and 0.9 mg/kg exceeding the limit of 0.04 mg/kg for agricultural use and shows a significant correlation with total As and organic matter (OM) content in soils. Arsenic contents in potato tuber samples are 35 times higher than that measured in potato tuber of uncontaminated control sites (0.03 mg/kg). Elevated As contents (3.9–5.4 mg/kg DW) were also found in root samples of sugar beet. The As contents in vegetable samples are higher than As content (0.1 mg/kg DW) in plants of uncontaminated control areas, and the limits for foodstuffs (0.5–1 mg/kg DW) set by legislation of many countries reflecting the risk of food chain contamination by As in this study area.

Graphical abstract: Impact of irrigation with arsenic-rich groundwater on soils and crops

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Article information

07 Oct 2008
12 Nov 2008
First published
25 Nov 2008

J. Environ. Monit., 2009,11, 498-502
Article type

Impact of irrigation with arsenic-rich groundwater on soils and crops

A. Moyano, A. Garcia-Sanchez, P. Mayorga, H. M. Anawar and E. Alvarez-Ayuso, J. Environ. Monit., 2009, 11, 498
DOI: 10.1039/B817634E

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