Impact of irrigating rice paddies with groundwater containing arsenic in Bangladesh

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Science of the Total Environment
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Aug 31
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Soil and soil-water As profiles were obtained from 4 rice paddies in Bangladesh during the wet growing season (May-November), when surface water with little arsenic is used for irrigation, or during the dry season (January-May), when groundwater elevated in arsenic is used instead. In the upper 5 cm of paddy soil, accumulation of 13 12 mg/kg acid-leachable As (n= 11) was observed in soil from 3 sites irrigated with groundwater containing 80-180 mu g/L As, whereas only 3 2 mg/kg acid-leachable As (n=8) was measured at a control site. Dissolved As concentrations averaged 370 340 mu g/L (n=7) in the upper 5 cm of the soil at the 3 sites irrigated with groundwater containing 80-180 gg/L As, contrasting with soil water As concentrations of only 18 7 gg/L (n=4) over the same depth interval at the control site. Despite the accumulation of As in soil and in soil water attributable to irrigation with groundwater containing elevated As levels, there is no evidence of a proportional transfer to rice grains collected from the same sites. Digestion and analysis of individual grains of boro winter rice from the 2 sites irrigated with groundwater containing 150 and 180 gg/L As yielded concentrations of 0.28 0.13 mg/kg (n=12) and 0.44 +/- 0.25 mg/kg (n= 12), respectively. The As content of winter rice from the control site was not significantly different though less variable (0.30 +/- 0.07; n = 12). The observations suggest that exposure of the Bangladesh population to As contained in rice is less of an immediate concern than the continued use of groundwater containing elevated As levels for drinking or cooking, or other potential consequences of As accumulation in soil and soil-water. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.01.030