Soil organic matter affects arsenic and antimony sorption in anaerobic soils.


KU Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Kasteelpark Arenberg 20 Bus 2459, 3001, Leuven, Belgium. Electronic address: [Email]


Soil organic matter (SOM) affects arsenic (As) and antimony (Sb) mobility in soils under waterlogged conditions by acting as an electron donor, by catalyzing redox-cycling through electron shuttling and by acting as a competing ligand. This study was set up to disentangle these different effects of SOM towards As and Sb sorption in anaerobic soils. Nine samples were taken at different depths in an agricultural soil profile to collect samples with a natural SOM gradient (<1-40 g soil organic carbon kg-1). The samples were incubated either or not under waterlogged conditions in an anaerobic chamber for 63-70 days, and glucose (5 g C kg-1) was either or not added to the anaerobic incubated samples as an electron donor that neither acts as an electron shuttle nor as a competing ligand. The solid-liquid distribution coefficients (KD) of As and Sb were measured at trace levels. The KD values of As decreased ∼2 orders of magnitude upon waterlogging the SOM rich topsoil, while no additional changes were observed when glucose was added. In contrast, smaller changes in the As KD values were found in the low SOM containing subsoil samples, unless glucose was added that mobilised As. The Sb KD values increased upon reducing conditions up to factor 20, but again only in the high SOM topsoil samples. Surprisingly, the Sb immobilisation during waterlogging only occurred in Sb amended soils whereas the geogenic Sb was mobilised upon reducing conditions, although total dissolved Sb concentrations remained low (<10 nM). The change in As and Sb sorption upon waterlogging was similar in the SOM rich topsoil as in the low SOM subsoil amended with glucose. This suggests that the SOM dependent changes in As and Sb mobility in response to soil waterlogging are primarily determined by the role of SOM as electron donor.

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