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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Monothioarsenate Transformation Kinetics Determining Arsenic Sequestration by Sulfhydryl Groups of Peat

Besold, Johannes; Biswas, Ashis; Suess, Elke; Scheinost, Andreas C.; Rossberg, Andre; Mikutta, Christian; Kretzschmar, Ruben; Gustafsson, Jon Petter; Planer-Friedrich, Britta


In peatlands, arsenite was reported to be effectively sequestered by sulfhydryl groups of natural organic matter. To which extent porewater arsenite can react with reduced sulfur to form thioarsenates and how this affects arsenic sequestration in peatlands is unknown. Here, we show that, in the naturally arsenic enriched peatland Gola di Lago, Switzerland, up to 93% of all arsenic species in surface and porewaters were thioarsenates. The dominant species, monothioarsenate, likely formed from arsenite and zerovalent sulfur-containing species. Laboratory incubations with sulfide-reacted, purified model peat showed increasing total arsenic sorption with decreasing pH from 8.5 to 4.5 for both, monothioarsenate and arsenite. However, Xray absorption spectroscopy revealed no binding of monothioarsenate via sulfhydryl groups. The sorption observed at pH 4.5 was acid-catalyzed dissociation of monothioarsenate, forming arsenite. The lower the pH and the more sulfhydryl sites, the more arsenite sorbed which in turn shifted equilibrium toward further dissociation of monothioarsenate. At pH 8.5, monothioarsenate was stable over 41 days. In conclusion, arsenic can be effectively sequestered by sulfhydryl groups in anoxic, slightly acidic environments where arsenite is the only arsenic species. At neutral to slightly alkaline pH, monothioarsenate can form and its slow transformation into arsenite and low affinity to sulfhydryl groups suggest that this species is mobile in such environments.

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Environmental Science and Technology
2018, Volume: 52, number: 13, pages: 7317-7326

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