Prediction of arsenic transport and transformation in soil environment requires understanding the transport mechanisms and proper estimation of arsenic partitioning among all three phases in soil/aquifer systems: mobile colloids, mobile soil solution, and immobile soil solids. The primary purpose of this research is to study natural dissolved organic matter (DOM)/colloid-facilitated transport of arsenic and understand the role of soil derived carriers in the transport and transformation of both inorganic and organoarsenicals in soils.
DOM/colloid facilitated arsenic transport and transformation in porous soil media were investigated using a set of experimental approaches including batch experiment, equilibrium membrane dialysis experiment and column experiment. Soil batch experiment was applied to investigate arsenic adsorption on a variety of soils with different characteristics; Equilibrium membrane dialysis was employed to determine the ‘free’ and ‘colloid-bound/complexed’ arsenic in water extracts of chosen soils; Column experiments were also set up in the laboratory to simulate arsenic transport and transformation through golf course soils in the presence and absence of soil-derived dissolved substances.
The experimental results revealed that organic matter amendments effectively reduced soil arsenic adsorption. The majority of arsenic present in the soil extracts was associated with small substances of molecular weight (MW) between 500 and 3,500 Da. Only a small fraction of arsenic was associated with higher MW substances (MW > 3,500 Da), which was operationally defined as colloidal part in this study. The association of arsenic and DOM in the soil extracts strongly affected arsenic bioavailability, arsenic transport and transformation in soils. The results of column experiments revealed arsenic complicated behavior with various processes occurring in soils studied, including: soil arsenic adsorption, facilitated arsenic transportation by dissolved substances presented in soil extracts and microorganisms involved arsenic species transformation.
Soil organic matter amendments effectively reduce soil arsenic adsorption capability either by scavenging soil arsenic adsorption sites or by interactions between arsenic species and dissolved organic chemicals in soil solution. Close attention must be paid for facilitated arsenic transport by dissolved substances presented in soil solution and microorganisms involved arsenic species transformation in arsenic-contaminated soils.