Arsenic species in broiler (Gallus gallus domesticus) litter, soils, maize (Zea mays L.), and groundwater from litter-amended fields

Elisa D'Angelo, Georgia Zeigler, E. Glenn Beck, John Grove, Frank Sikora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Manure and bedding material (litter) generated by the broiler industry (Gallus gallus domesticus) often contain high levels of arsenic (As) when organoarsenical roxarsone and p-arsanilic acid are included in feed to combat disease and improve weight gain of the birds. This study was conducted to determine As levels and species in litter from three major broiler producing companies, and As levels in soils, corn tissue (Zea mays L.), and groundwater in fields where litter was applied. Total As in litter from the three different integrators ranged between <1 and 44mgkg-1. Between 15 and 20% of total As in litter consisted of mostly of arsenate, with smaller amounts of roxarsone and several transformation products that were extractable with phosphate buffer. Soils amended with litter had higher levels of bioavailable As (extractable with Mehlich 3 solution and taken up by corn leaves). Arsenic concentrations in plant tissue and groundwater, however, were below the World Health Organization thresholds, which was attributed to strong sorption/precipitation of arsenate in Fe- and Al-rich soils. Ecological impacts of amending soils with As-laden litter depend on the As species in the litter, and chemical and physical properties of soil that strongly affect As mobility and bioavailability in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-292
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Colleen Steele of the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, who collected water samples for arsenic analysis from lysimeters, Tricia Coakley of the University of Kentucky, Environmental Research and Teaching Laboratory, who analyzed arsenic in water, plant and litter samples, and also financial support for the project from the Kentucky Senate Bill 271 Water Quality Grant .


  • Arsenate
  • Bioavailability
  • Lysimeter
  • Roxarsone
  • Sorption isotherms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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