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Project ID: 2005AR82B

Title: The distribution of roxarsone and its byproducts in soils, soil pore-water, groundwater, and stream water

Project Type: Research

Focus Categories: Hydrogeochemistry, Agriculture, Sediments

Keywords: Poultry Litter, Groundwater Quality, Arsenic

Start Date: 03/01/2004

End Date: 02/28/2005

Federal Funds: $19,460

Non-Federal Matching Funds: $40,850

Congressional District: 1

Principal Investigator:
Carolyn Dowling
Arkansas State University


Most poultry litter from commercial poultry operations contains arsenic from the use of roxarsone, an organoarsenic feed additive. Because of the high nutrient content, poultry litter is reused as fertilizer for neighboring agricultural fields. The roxarsone in the poultry-litter fertilizer will degrade into both inorganic arsenic species [arsenite (As(III)) and arsenate (As(V))], and organic arsenic species [monomethylarsenic acid (MMA) and dimethylarseonic acid (DMA)]. The organoarsenicals (MMA and DMA) are produced by biomethylation via bacteria, fungi, and algae and are more toxic than their inorganic counterparts. Previous research indicates that the composting of poultry litter may release roxarsone and its by-products into the environment, which may impact soil and water resources from the accumulation of arsenic, other heavy metals, and nutrients over time. This investigation will characterize the mobility and concentration of roxarsone and its byproducts (inorganic and organic arsenic species) in poultry litter, soils, soil pore-water, groundwater, and streams in a small area on the Farm Complex at Arkansas State University. The transport pathway for roxarsone, As(III), As(V), MMA, and DMA in the environment will be determined. The proposed study will encourage undergraduate students at Arkansas State University to become involved in Chemistry through an undergraduate research project and will create exciting hands-on learning experiences for an undergraduate student interested in Environmental Chemistry.

Progress/Completion Report PDF

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Maintained by: John Schefter
Last Updated: Wednesday June 1, 2005 3:10 PM
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