Environmental geochemistry and health

Fractionation and speciation of arsenic in fresh and combusted coal wastes from Yangquan, northern China.

PMID 21638002


In this study, the content and speciation of arsenic in coal waste and gas condensates from coal waste fires were investigated, respectively, using the digestion and sequential extraction methods. The fresh and fired-coal waste samples were collected from Yangquan, which is one of the major coal production regions in northern China. High-performance liquid chromatography-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS) was used to determine the concentrations of four major arsenic species [As(III), As(V), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) and dimethylarsenic acid (DMA)] in the extracts, while ICP-MS was used to measure total As content. Arsenic content in the investigated coal wastes and the condensate ranges between 23.3 and 69.3 mg/kg, which are higher than its reported average content in soils. Arsenic in coal waste exists primarily in the residual fraction; this is followed in decreasing order by the organic matter-bound, Fe-Mn oxides-bound, exchangeable, carbonates-bound, and water-soluble fractions. The high content of arsenic in the condensates indicates that combustion or spontaneous combustion is one of the major ways for arsenic release into the environment from coal waste. About 15% of the arsenic in the condensate sample is labile and can release into the environment under leaching processes. The water extractable arsenic (WEA) in the fresh coal waste, fired coal wastes, and the condensate varied between 14.6 and 341 μg/kg, with As(V) as the major species. Furthermore, both MMA and DMA were found in fresh coal wastes, fired coal wastes, and the condensate.