Issue 2, 2023

Review of analytical techniques for arsenic detection and determination in drinking water


Arsenic occurs in the natural environment in four oxidation states: As(V), As(III), As(0) and As(−III). The behavior of arsenic species changes depending on the biotic or abiotic conditions in water. In groundwater, arsenic is predominantly present as As(III) and As(V), with a minor amount of methyl and dimethyl arsenic compounds being reported. Global intake of As(III) and As(V) via drinking water and food has dramatically increased in recent years. The commonly used term inorganic arsenic includes both As(III) and As(V) species and constitutes the highest toxicological risk associated with arsenic in water compared to the organic arsenic species. Inorganic arsenic is a confirmed carcinogen and the World Health Organization (WHO) has published a guideline value for arsenic in their ‘Guidelines for drinking-water quality’ and is on the WHO list of 10 chemicals of major public health concern. Presently, approximately, 230 million people worldwide are affected by arsenic toxicity. Chronic arsenic toxicity affects multiple physiological systems and can cause serious health issues (e.g. arsenicosis, cancer etc.) leading to death. To combat arsenic pollution, the WHO and United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) have set concentration limits for arsenic in drinking water. The WHO, US-EPA and European Union (EU) have set the maximum limit of arsenic in drinking water at 10 ppb. To meet the required limit, it is essential that rapid, reliable, sensitive and cost-effective analytical detection systems be developed and put into use. Different determination methods of inorganic arsenic have been developed over the last 5–6 decades. This review provides an overview of around 170 research articles and relevant literature, mainly regarding the existing methods for analysis of As(III) and As(V) in water. Chromatographic, spectroscopic, colorimetric, biological (whole cell biosensors (WCB) and aptasensors), electroanalytical and coupled techniques are discussed. For those who are at the early stage of their research career in this field, the basic introduction and necessary concepts for various techniques is discussed followed by an evaluation of their performance towards arsenic determination. Current challenges as well as potential avenues for future research, including the demands for enhanced analytical performance, rapid analysis and on-site technologies for remote water analysis and environmental applications are discussed. We believe that this review will be beneficial, a source of information, and enhance awareness and appreciation of the role of these advanced analytical techniques in informing and protecting our environment and water resources, globally.

Graphical abstract: Review of analytical techniques for arsenic detection and determination in drinking water

Article information

Article type
Tutorial Review
08 Sep 2022
04 Nov 2022
First published
07 Nov 2022
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY-NC license

Environ. Sci.: Adv., 2023,2, 171-195

Review of analytical techniques for arsenic detection and determination in drinking water

A. Bhat, T. O. Hara, F. Tian and B. Singh, Environ. Sci.: Adv., 2023, 2, 171 DOI: 10.1039/D2VA00218C

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications, without requesting further permission from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given and it is not used for commercial purposes.

To request permission to reproduce material from this article in a commercial publication, please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

If you are an author contributing to an RSC publication, you do not need to request permission provided correct acknowledgement is given.

If you are the author of this article, you do not need to request permission to reproduce figures and diagrams provided correct acknowledgement is given. If you want to reproduce the whole article in a third-party commercial publication (excluding your thesis/dissertation for which permission is not required) please go to the Copyright Clearance Center request page.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity