Arsenic(III) methylation in betaine-nontronite clay-water suspensions under environmental conditions

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Cuajimalpa, Mexico.
Journal of hazardous materials (Impact Factor: 4.53). 06/2010; 178(1-3):450-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2010.01.102
Source: PubMed


This paper reports arsenic methylation in betaine-nontronite clay-water suspensions under environmental conditions. Two nontronites (<0.05 mm), NAu-1 (green color, Al-enriched) and NAu-2 (brown color, Al-poor, contains tetrahedral Fe) from Uley Mine - South Australia were selected for this study. Betaine (pK(a)=1.83) was selected as methyl donor. The reaction between 5 g L(-1) clay, 20 ppm As(III), and 0.4M betaine at 7< or =pH(0)< or =9 under anoxic conditions was studied. The presence of nontronite clays were found to favor As(III) conversion to monomethylarsenic (MMA). Arsenic conversion was found to be as high as 50.2 ng MMA/ng As(III)(0). Conversion of As was found to be more quantitative in the presence of NAu-2 ((Na(0.72)) [Si(7.55) Al(0.16)Fe(0.29)][Al(0.34) Fe(3.54) Mg(0.05)] O(20)(OH)(4)) than NAu-1 ((Na(1.05)) [Si(6.98) Al(0.95)Fe(0.07)][Al(0.36) Fe(3.61) Mg(0.04)] O(20)(OH)(4)). The inherent negative charge at the nontronite tetrahedral layer stabilizes positively charged organic intermediate-reaction species, thereby leading to decreases in the overall methylation activation energy. The outcome of this work shows that nontronite clays catalyze As methylation to MMA via non-enzymatic pathway(s) under environmental conditions.

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    ABSTRACT: Redox activation (reduction of structural Fe) of smectites greatly alters their chemical reactivity and physical properties, which may be exploited for various environmental, agricultural or industrial purposes. Their re-oxidation during preparation, characterization, and use is, however, a significant risk to their utility. In this study, methods and apparatus were developed and described which mitigated reoxidation. Ferruginous smectite (sample SWa-1, Na saturated) was used as the model smectite. It was reduced with sodium dithionite in a citrate-bicarbonate buffer solution at 70°C for 4 h, which achieved a maximum Fe(II)/total Fe ratio of 0.9113 0.0048. The first step in rendering reduced samples useful is to remove from them the reducing agents and other solutes present during reduction. This was accomplished in the present study by reducing the sample in an inert-atmosphere reaction tube (IRT) (a 50 mL centrifuge tube equipped with a removable septum cap), then removing solutes from the suspension by centrifuge washing. The washing steps were performed with the aid of a controlled-atmosphere liquid exchanger (CALE) which provided connections between the sample suspension and deoxygenated solutions. The reduced state was measured by 1,10-phenanthroline or by Mössbauer spectroscopy at 77 K to give Fe(II)/total Fe ratios. Some samples were freeze dried after washing. Results revealed that if reduced smectites are washed without protection from atmospheric O2, the extent of reoxidation is on the order of 40 to 60%. If the sample is subsequently dried, reoxidation increases to more than 76%. If the sample is protected using the IRT and the CALE, however, reoxidation is decreased to less than 2%. Freeze drying in a glove box allowed reoxidaton to increase to slightly more than 10%. These results indicate that more reoxidation occurred during the drying stage than during the washing stage. These observations lead to the conclusions that (1) protection of reduced samples from atmospheric O2 is essential if extensive reoxidation is to be prevented, and (2) the methods and apparatus described herein are effective for accomplishing that purpose in abiotically reduced smectites. They may also be effective if applied to microbially reduced smectites.
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