Arsenic (As) contamination of paddy soils threatens rice cultivation and the health of populations relying on rice as a staple crop. In the present study, isotopic dilution techniques were used to determine the chemically labile (E value) and phytoavailable (L value) pools of As in a range of paddy soils from Bangladesh, India, and China and two arable soils from the UK varying in the degree and sources of As contamination. The E value accounted for 6.2-21.4% of the total As, suggesting that a large proportion of soil As is chemically nonlabile. L values measured with rice grown under anaerobic conditions were generally larger than those under aerobic conditions, indicating increased potentially phytoavailable pool of As in flooded soils. In an incubation study, As was mobilized into soil pore water mainly as arsenite under flooded conditions, with Bangladeshi soils contaminated by irrigation of groundwater showing a greater potential of As mobilization than other soils. Arsenic mobilization was best predicted by phosphate-extractable As in the soils.
- irrigated rice fields
- temporal variability