Some paddy soils in the Bengal delta are contaminated with arsenic (As) due to irrigation of As-laden groundwater, which may lead to yield losses and elevated As transfer to the food chain. Whether these soils have a higher As bioavailability than other soils containing either geogenic As or contaminated by mining activities was investigated in a pot experiment. Fourteen soils varying in the source and the degree (4-138 mg As kg 1¿¹) of As contamination were collected, 10 from Bangladeshi paddy fields (contaminated by irrigation water) and two each from China and the UK (geogenic or mining impacted), for comparison. Bangladeshi soils had higher percentages of the total As extractable by ammonium phosphate (specifically sorbed As) than other soils and also released more As into the porewater upon flooding. Porewater As concentrations increased with increasing soil As concentrations more steeply in Bangladeshi soils, with arsenite being the dominant As species. Rice growth and grain yield decreased markedly in Bangladeshi soils containing > 13 mg As kg 1¿¹, but not in the other soils. Phosphate-extractable or porewater As was a better indicator of As bioavailability than total soil As. Rice straw As concentrations increased with increasing soil As concentrations; however, As phytotoxicity appeared to result in lower grain As concentrations. The relative proportions of inorganic As and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) in grain varied among soils, and the percentage DMA was larger in greenhouse-grown plants than grain samples collected from the paddy fields of the same soil and the same rice cultivar, indicating a strong environmental influence on As species found in rice grain. This study shows that Bangladeshi paddy soils contaminated by irrigation had a higher As bioavailability than other soils, resulting in As phytotoxicity in rice and substantial yield losses.
Meharg, A. A., Khan, M. A., Stroud, J. L., Zhu, Y., McGrath, S. P., & Zhao, F. J. (2010). Arsenic bioavailability to rice is elevated in Bangladeshi paddy soils. Environmental Science & Technology, 44(22), 8515-8521. https://doi.org/10.1021/es101952f