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Journal of environmental monitoring : JEM

Quantitative arsenic speciation in two species of earthworms from a former mine site.


PMID 18528543

Abstract

The relationship between the total arsenic concentration and the chemical speciation of arsenic in two species of earthworm (Lumbricus rubellus and Dendrodrilus rubidus) in relation to the host soil, was investigated for 13 sites of varying arsenic content, including a background level garden soil and a former mine site at the Devon Great Consols, UK. Earthworms were collected with the host soil (As soil concentration range 16-12, 466 mg kg(-1) dry weight) and measured for their total arsenic (concentration range 7-595 mg kg(-1) dry weight) using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). A methanol-water mixture was used to extract arsenic species from the earthworms prior to determination of the individual arsenic species by a combination of anion and cation exchange high performance liquid chromatography coupled to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS). A gradient elution anion exchange method is presented whereby nine arsenic species could be measured in one sample injection. Arsenic species were identified by comparison of retention times and sample spiking with known standards and a fully characterised seaweed extract. Arsenic was generally present in the earthworm as arsenate (As(V)) or arsenite (As(III)) and arsenobetaine (AB). Methylarsonate (MA), dimethylarsinate (DMA) and three arsenosugars (glycerol, phosphate, sulfate) were present as minor constituents. These results are discussed in relation to the mechanisms for coping with exposure to soil bound arsenic.

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