Author(s): MorenoJimnez E, Esteban E, Pealosa JM
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Abstract Arsenic is a natural trace element found in the environment. In some cases and places, human activities have increased the soil concentration of As to levels that exceed hazard thresholds. Amongst the main contributing sources of As contamination of soil and water are the following: geologic origin, pyriticmining, agriculture, and coal burning. Arsenic speciation in soils occurs and is relatively complex. Soils contain both organic and inorganic arsenic species. Inorganic As species include arsenite and arsenate, which are the most abundant forms found in the environment. The majority of As in aerated soils exists as H₂AsO₄- (acid soils) or HAsO₄²- (neutral species and basic). However, HA₃sO₃ is the predomiant anaerobic soils, where arsenic availability is higher and As(III) is more weakly retained in the soil matrix than is As(V). The availability of As in soils is usually driven by multiple factors. Among these factors is the presence of Fe-oxides and/or phosphorus, (co)precipitation in salts, pH, organic matter, clay content, rainfall amount, etc. The available and most labile As fraction can potentially be taken up by plant roots, although the concentration of this fraction is usually low. Arsenic has no known biological function in plants. Once inside root cells, As(V) is quickly reduced to As(III), and, in many plant species, becomes complexed. Phosphorus nutrition influences As(V) uptake and toxicity in plants, whilst silicon has similar influences on As(III). Plants cope with As contamination in their tissues by possessing detoxification mechanisms. Such mechanisms include complexation and compartmentalization. However, once these mechanisms are saturated, symptoms of phytotoxicity appear. Phytotoxic effects commonly observed from As exposure includes growth inhibition, chlorophyll degradation, nutrient depletion and oxidative stress. Plants vary in their ability to accumulate and tolerate As (from tolerant hyperaccumulators to sensitive excluders), and some plants are useful for soil reclamation and in sustainable agriculture, The status of current scientific knowledge allows us to manage As contamination in the soil-plant system and to mitigate arsenic's effects. Phytoremediation is an emerging technology suitable for reclaiming As-contaminated soils and waters. Phytoextraction has been used to clean As-contaminated soils, although its applicability has not yet reached maturity. Phytostabilization has been employed to reduce environmental risk by confining As as an inert form in soils and has shown success in both laboratory experiments and in field trials. Phytofiltration has been used to treat As-enriched waters. Such treatment removes As when it is accumulated in plants grown in or on water. In agricultural food production, appropriate soil management and plant variety/species selection can minimize As-associated human dis- eases and the transfer of As within the food chain. Selecting suitable plants for use on As-contaminated soils may also enhance alternative land use, such as for energy or raw material production.
This article was published in Rev Environ Contam Toxicol
and referenced in Bioenergetics: Open Access