Arsenic's interactions with humic acid

The environmental mobility of arsenic is primarily controlled by adsorption onto metal oxide surfaces, particularly iron, aluminium and manganese. Humic acid (HA) may interfere with this adsorption, thereby increasing arsenic mobility. This study has characterised the interaction of arsenic with HA in a system consisting of HA with As(III), As(V) and DMAA. Three sets of batch experiments were performed at varying pH (3-12), ionic strength (I = 0 - 0.4), concentration of each arsenic species (0 - 100 mg dm-3) and HA concentration (0 - 10 g dm-3). Arsenic species were shown to react with humic acid. The interaction is postulated to involve bridging metals and deprotonated functional groups within the HA. The association is dependent on pH, ionic strength and arsenic concentration. The extent of the interaction was greater in the pH range 8 – 10 for As(V) and DMAA, while it extended to pH 12 for As(III). The strong pH dependency is probably due to the aqueous speciation of arsenic. The logarithmic conditional association constants for the reactions were found to be 1.97 ± 0.02, 1.58 ± 0.07 and 1.50 ± 0.10 for As(V), As(III) and DMAA respectively. These values indicate the formation of weak complexes with humic acid.