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Laboratory Investigations of Enhanced Sulfate Reduction as a Groundwater Arsenic Remediation Strategy

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journal contribution
posted on 01.10.2007, 00:00 by A. R. Keimowitz, B. J. Mailloux, P. Cole, M. Stute, H. J. Simpson, S. N. Chillrud
Landfills have the potential to mobilize arsenic via induction of reducing conditions in groundwater and subsequent desorption from or dissolution of arsenic-bearing iron phases. Laboratory incubation experiments were conducted with materials from a landfill where such processes are occurring. These experiments explored the potential for induced sulfate reduction to immobilize dissolved arsenic in situ. The native microbial community at this site reduced sulfate in the presence of added acetate. Acetate respiration and sulfate reduction were observed concurrent with dissolved iron concentrations initially increasing from 0.6 μM (0.03 mg L-1) to a maximum of 111 μM (6.1 mg L-1) and subsequently decreasing to 0.74 μM (0.04 mg L-1). Dissolved arsenic concentrations initially covaried with iron but subsequently increased again as sulfide accumulated, consistent with the formation of soluble thioarsenite complexes. Dissolved arsenic concentrations subsequently decreased again from a maximum of 2 μM (148 μg L-1) to 0.3 μM (22 μg L-1), consistent with formation of sulfide mineral phases or increased arsenic sorption at higher pH values. Disequilibrium processes may also explain this second arsenic peak. The maximum iron and arsenic concentrations observed in the lab represent conditions most equivalent to the in situ conditions. These findings indicate that enhanced sulfate reduction merits further study as a potential in situ groundwater arsenic remediation strategy at landfills and other sites with elevated arsenic in reducing groundwater.

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