Arsenic rich iron plaque on macrophyte roots: an ecotoxicological risk?

M A Taggart, R Mateo, J M Charnock, F Bahrami, A J Green, A A Meharg

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Arsenic is known to accumulate with iron plaque on macrophyte roots. Three to four years after the Aznalcollar mine spill (Spain), residual arsenic contamination left in seasonal wetland habitats has been identified in this form by scanning electron microscopy. Total digestion has determined arsenic concentrations in thoroughly washed 'root + plaque' material in excess of 1000 mg kg(-1), and further analysis using X-ray absorption spectroscopy suggests arsenic exists as both arsenate and arsenite. Certain herbivorous species feed on rhizomes and bulbs of macrophytes in a wide range of global environments, and the ecotoxicological impact of consuming arsenic rich iron plaque associated with such food items remains to be quantified. Here, greylag geese which feed on Scirpus maritimus rhizome and bulb material in areas affected by the Aznalcollar spill are shown to have elevated levels of arsenic in their feces, which may originate from arsenic rich iron plaque. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-954
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
Early online date5 Dec 2008
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • herbivorous wildlife
  • metalloids
  • food chain transfer
  • wetlands
  • phytoremediation
  • aznalcollar mine spill
  • curved-wave theory
  • geese anser-anser
  • heavy-metals
  • typha-latifolia
  • wetland plants
  • toxic spill
  • trace-elements
  • salt marshes
  • fresh-water


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