Arsenic in Soils Affected by Mining: Microscopic Studies vs. Sequential Chemical Extraction

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 14;17(22):8426. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17228426.


Soil samples from three inactive mines, corresponding to different Arsenic-bearing mineralization types, were collected and studied. The aim was to determine the influence of mine wastes mineralogy/geochemistry and texture in As mobility and to compare results from sequential chemical extraction and microscopic techniques (optical and electron) at a grain scale. Arsenic in soils is found mainly associated to the residual fraction, indicating that mechanical As dispersion is mainly responsible for As soil pollution. The use of objective microscopic techniques (i.e., Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy -SEM-EDS-, High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy -HR-TEM) has pointed out that the selected sequential extraction method overestimates the role of Mn amorphous oxy-hydroxides and organic matter in As retention while underestimating the mechanism of As adsorption onto clay particle surfaces.

Keywords: arsenic; contaminated soil; mineralogy and texture of mining waste; sequential chemical extraction.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic* / analysis
  • Mining
  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants* / analysis


  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Arsenic