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|Arsenic pools in soils under native vegetation on a steatite outcrop in Brazil
|SILVA, L. L. et al. Arsenic pools in soils under native vegetation on a steatite outcrop in Brazil. Environmental Research, [S.l.], v. 216, Jan. 2023.
|Pristine soils under native vegetation can present high levels of potentially toxic elements when developed from the weathering of some unusual parent materials, especially ultramafic rocks and some metal ores. Here, we used various selective extractions in order to study the partition and potential availability of As in eight soils developed from steatite (a talc-rich rock) on an ultramafic hill in Brazil. Soils varied from shallow Entisols on the summit to Inceptisols and Oxisols on slopes and footslopes, where total As contents (determined by X-ray fluorescence) reached levels as high as 225 mg kg−1, which might raise concerns about their potential agricultural use and occupation. Despite these high values for pristine soils, water- and Mehlich-available As were nil or negligible in all soils, whereas oxalate-extractable As reached a maximum 4.2 mg kg−1, and the highest semi-total (nitric acid digestion) was 9.3 mg kg−1. However, As relative availability (compared to total As) varied widely among soils, with one Inceptisol (with a total 11–19 mg kg−1) reaching 100% of its total As extractable by nitric acid, whereas an Oxisol showed <0.1% in nitric acid extract. Generally, we can conclude that, in soils with the highest total As concentrations, most As is contained within resistant, coarse phases such as primary magnetite, chromite and others, and a minor but still considerable part is bound to secondary Fe oxides. Thus, despite the unusually high As contents for soils under pristine savannic and forest native vegetations, the different As pools assessed here apparently do not raise immediate concerns where ultramafic rocks rich in Fe oxides give rise to soils under tropical climate. However, it is theoretically possible that subsoil saturation and Fe oxide reduction release some As in ground- and surface waters, which deserves further investigation.
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