[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Arsenic in drinking water affects millions of people around the world. While soluble arsenic is commonly measured, the amount of particulate arsenic in drinking water has often been overlooked. We report here determination of the acid-leachable particulate arsenic and soluble arsenicals in well water from an arsenic-poisoning endemic area in Inner Mongolia, China. Water samples (583) were collected from 120 wells in Ba Men, Inner Mongolia, where well water was the primary drinking water source. Two methods were demonstrated for the determination of soluble arsenic species (primarily inorganic arsenate and arsenite) and total particulate arsenic. The first method used solid phase extraction cartridges and membrane filters to separate arsenic species on-site, followed by analysis of the individual arsenic species eluted from the cartridges and filters. The other method uses liquid chromatography separation with hydride generation atomic fluorescence detection to determine soluble arsenic species. Analysis of acidified water samples using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry provided the total arsenic concentration. Arsenic concentrations in water samples from the 120 wells ranged from <1 to ∼1000 μg L−1. On average, particulate arsenic accounted for 39 ± 38% (median 36%) of the total arsenic. In some wells, particulate arsenic was six times higher than the soluble arsenic concentration. Particulate arsenic can be effectively removed using membrane filtration. The information on particulate and soluble arsenic in water is useful for optimizing treatment options and for understanding the geochemical behavior of arsenic in groundwater.