Arsenic in Bangladeshi soils related to physiographic region, paddy management, and mirco- and macro-elemental status

M. Tanvir A. Chowdhury, Claire M. Deacon, Gerrad D. Jones, S.M. Imamul Huq, Paul N. Williams, A.F.M. Manzurul Hoque, Lenny H.E. Winkel, Adam H. Price, Gareth J. Norton, Andrew A. Meharg

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While the impact of arsenic in irrigated agriculture has become a major environmental concern in Bangladesh, to date there is still a limited understanding of arsenic in Bangladeshi paddy soils at a landscape level. A soil survey was conducted across ten different physiographic regions of Bangladesh, which encompassed six types of geomorphology (Bil, Brahmaputra floodplain, Ganges floodplain, Meghna floodplain, Karatoya-Bangali floodplain and Pleistocene terrace). A total of 1209 paddy soils and 235 matched non-paddy soils were collected. The source of irrigation water (groundwater and surface water) was also recorded. The concentrations of arsenic and sixteen other elements were determined in the soil samples. The concentration of arsenic was higher in paddy soils compared to non-paddy soils, with soils irrigated with groundwater being higher in arsenic than those irrigated with surface water. There was a clear difference between the Holocene floodplains and the Pleistocene terraces, with Holocene floodplain soils being higher in arsenic and other elements. The results suggest that arsenic is most likely associated with less well weathered/ leached soils, suggesting it is either due to the geological newness of Holocene sediments or differences between the sources of sediments, which gives rise to the arsenic problems in Bangladeshi soils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-415
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date10 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was done as part of a doctoral fellowship plan funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK. We gratefully acknowledge the Computer and GIS Unit of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) for providing GIS files for soil mapping. The soil samples were imported into the UK under import license IMP/SOIL/6/2013 issued by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture. L.H.E.W. and G.D.J. acknowledge funding by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF PP00P2_133619; PP00P2_163747).


  • soil
  • arsenic
  • physiographic region
  • Holocene floodplain
  • Pleistocene terrace


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