Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 12, pp 8866–8875 | Cite as

Bioavailability and ecotoxicity of arsenic species in solution culture and soil system: implications to remediation

  • Nanthi BolanEmail author
  • Santiago Mahimairaja
  • Anitha Kunhikrishnan
  • Balaji Seshadri
  • Ramya Thangarajan
Bioavailability - the underlying basis for Risk Based Land Management


In this work, bioavailability and ecotoxicity of arsenite (As(III)) and arsenate (As(V)) species were compared between solution culture and soil system. Firstly, the adsorption of As(III) and As(V) was compared using a number of non-allophanic and allophanic soils. Secondly, the bioavailability and ecotoxicity were examined using germination, phytoavailability, earthworm, and soil microbial activity tests. Both As-spiked soils and As-contaminated sheep dip soils were used to test bioavailability and ecotoxicity. The sheep dip soil which contained predominantly As(V) species was subject to flooding to reduce As(V) to As(III) and then used along with the control treatment soil to compare the bioavailability between As species. Adsorption of As(V) was much higher than that of As(III), and the difference in adsorption between these two species was more pronounced in the allophanic than non-allophanic soils. In the solution culture, there was no significant difference in bioavailability and ecotoxicity, as measured by germination and phytoavailability tests, between these two As species. Whereas in the As-spiked soils, the bioavailability and ecotoxicity were higher for As(III) than As(V), and the difference was more pronounced in the allophanic than non-allophanic soils. Bioavailability of As increased with the flooding of the sheep dip soils which may be attributed to the reduction of As(V) to As(III) species. The results in this study have demonstrated that while in solution, the bioavailability and ecotoxicity do not vary between As(III) and As(V), in soils, the latter species is less bioavailable than the former species because As(V) is more strongly retained than As(III). Since the bioavailability and ecotoxicity of As depend on the nature of As species present in the environment, risk-based remediation approach should aim at controlling the dynamics of As transformation.


Arsenic species Germination Plant uptake Adsorption Ecotoxicity 



We would like to thank Massey University Research Foundation for the award of the Postdoctoral Fellowship. We would also like to thank Dr. Chris Anderson for his help in analyzing the soil and plant samples for As using the graphite furnace AAS. The Postdoctoral fellowship program (PJ008650042012) at National Academy of Agricultural Science, Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea, supported Dr. Kunhikrishnan’s contribution.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nanthi Bolan
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Santiago Mahimairaja
    • 3
  • Anitha Kunhikrishnan
    • 4
  • Balaji Seshadri
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ramya Thangarajan
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, Building–XUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakesAustralia
  2. 2.Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the EnvironmentSalisburyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Environmental ScienceTamil Nadu Agricultural UniversityCoimbatoreIndia
  4. 4.Chemical Safety Division, Department of Agro-Food SafetyNational Academy of Agricultural ScienceSuwon-siRepublic of Korea

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