Arsenic species, including inorganic arsenate, arsenite and organic methylated compounds such as arsenosugars, are routinely determined using HPLC-ICP-MS. The method is applicable to the analysis of soils, waters and biological material, such as earthworms and toenails.
The toxic effects of arsenic are well documented, but the risks to human health associated with exposure to arsenic contaminated soils are not fully understood. A collaborative PhD studentship between the BGS and the University of Leicester aims to provide a better understanding of risk at arsenic contaminated sites using a multidisciplinary approach. In addition to assessing the total concentrations of arsenic in soils at an abandoned mine in Devon, UK, the human bioaccessibility has been estimated using a physiologically based extraction test (PBET). Arsenic accumulation by earthworms was correlated to human bioaccessibility at the contaminated site. Analysis of DNA damage will show if exposure to arsenic has resulted in significant harm to earthworm populations native to the mine site or if the earthworms have become resistant to the pollution. This information will reveal if earthworms found in contaminated sites can be used in conjunction with bioaccessibility testing to improve our approach to risk assessment.
Please contact Dr Michael Watts for further information