Date: 11 Oct 2011

Arsenic Speciation, Distribution, and Bioaccessibility in Shrews and Their Food

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Abstract

Shrews (Sorex cinereus) collected at a historic mine in Nova Scotia, Canada, had approximately twice the arsenic body burden and 100 times greater daily intake of arsenic compared with shrews from a nearby uncontaminated background site. Shrews store arsenic as inorganic and simple methylated arsenicals. Much of the arsenic associated with their primary food source, i.e., small invertebrates, may be soil adsorbed to their exoskeletons. A physiologically based extraction test estimated that 47 ± 2% of invertebrate arsenic is bioaccessible in the shrew gastrointestinal tract. Overall, shrews appear to be efficient at processing and excreting inorganic arsenic.