• Laszlo Magos
  • George G. Berg
Part of the Rochester Series on Environmental Toxicity book series (RSET)


Selenium is widely but unevenly distributed in nature. The average concentration in the earth’s crust is 0.009 μg/g. The average concentrations in local soils range from below 0.06 μg/g (selenium impoverished) to above 8 μg/g (seleniferous), and may be as high as 30 μg/g. Concentrations in excess of 300 μg/g were found in seams of coal, where water leached selenium into surrounding soil. Elemental selenium, basic ferric selenite and calcium selenate are the most common forms of selenium in soil, but plants and animals continually add organic selenium to the topsoil. Greater alkalinity and depleted organic content of soil favor the release of selenium compounds into water and their absorption by plants, while acidity and abundance of iron obstruct release and absorption. In seleniferous soil, some primary selenium indicator plants, such as Astragalus (milk vetch) can accumulate selenium up to a few mg/g tissue (Frost and Lish, 1975; Rosenfeld and Beath, 1964; Thomson and Robinson, 1980; Yang et al., 1983).


Hair Sample Selenium Concentration Selenium Deficiency Selenium Content Selenium Compound 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laszlo Magos
    • 1
    • 2
  • George G. Berg
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.MRC Toxicology UnitMedical Research Council LaboratoriesCarshalton, SurreyUK
  2. 2.Division of ToxicologyUniversity of Rochester School of MedicineRochesterUSA

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