Virginia Tech researchers from geosciences and biology are looking at where arsenic occurs in water, how it is getting there, and how to prevent it. They will present their findings at the 116th national meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver Nov. 7-10.
Since health data have demonstrated that arsenic is a carcinogen, the U.S. standard for arsenic in drinking water has been lowered from 50 to 10 parts per billion, which is the same as the European Union standard, said Madeline Schreiber, assistant professor of geosciences. She and associate professor of biology Maurice Valett are lead investigators on a National Science Foundation-funded project that began in 2002 on "Transport, transformation, and retention of arsenic in a headwater stream: hyrdrologic, biological, and geochemical controls."
Research is being conducted at a site near the Virginia Tech campus, where arsenopyrite, an arsenic-bearing sulfide, was mined from 1903 to 1919. "Arsenic was used in pesticide. The extraction process involved heating the ore so that the arsenic would oxidize as a white powder," Schreiber said.
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