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Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

Volume 124 of the series Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology pp 79-110

Environmental Biochemistry of Arsenic

  • S. TamakiAffiliated withDepartment of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California
  • , W. T. FrankenbergerJrAffiliated withDepartment of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California

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Abstract

Arsenic has both metallic and nonmetallic properties and is a member of the nitrogen family. It occurs as a free element and combined form being widely distributed in sulfide ores. The poisonous character of arsenic allowed for its use as a herbicide, cattle and sheep dips, and insecticides. The ubiquity of arsenic in the environment, its biological toxicity, and its redistribution are factors evoking public concern. This review will cover the chemistry of arsenic and methods curently used to speciate the prevalent chemical forms in various environments. The major focus of this review is on the biological transformations of arsenic in both the terrestrial and aquatic systems.