The oxidation states of arsenic in well-water from a chronic arsenicism area of northern Mexico

Environ Pollut. 1990;64(2):143-53. doi: 10.1016/0269-7491(90)90111-o.

Abstract

Aquifers in the Región Lagunera in northern Mexico are heavily contaminated with arsenic. The range of total arsenic concentrations in 128 water samples analyzed was 0.008 to 0.624 mg litre(-1), and concentrations greater than 0.05 mg litre(-1) were found in 50% of them. Approximately 400 000 people living in rural areas were exposed to high As concentrations. Most of the As was in inorganic form and pentavalent arsenic [As(V)] was the predominant species in 93% of the samples. In 36% of the samples, however, variable percentages (20-50) of trivalent As [As(III)] were found. Organic arsenicals were present in very small amounts. Since As(III) is several times more toxic than As(V), we suggest that periodic studies be performed on the As(III)/As(V) ratio in wells whose total As concentrations are above 0.05 mg litre(-1), in combination with epidemiological studies to evaluate possible differences in health effects produced by different As species.