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Arsenic concentrations and speciation in wild birds from an abandoned realgar mine in China

Yang, Fen, Xie, Shaowen, Liu, Jinxin, Wei, Chaoyang, Zhang, Hongzhi, Chen, Tao, Zhang, Jing
Chemosphere 2018 v.193 pp. 777-784
Garrulax canorus, Passer montanus, Pica pica, Pycnonotus, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, arsenates, arsenic, arsenites, atomic absorption spectrometry, bioaccumulation, biotransformation, cacodylic acid, feathers, food chain, high performance liquid chromatography, muscles, wild birds, China
Birds are at a higher level in the food chain; however, the potential bioaccumulation and biotransformation of arsenic (As) in birds in As mines has rarely been studied. In this study, four passerine bird species (tree sparrow [Passer montanus], light-vented bulbul [Pycnonotus sinensis], Garrulax canorus [Leucodioptron canorus], and magpie [Pica pica]) were collected from an abandoned As mine in China. The highest recorded As concentrations were 4.95 mg/kg and 51.65 mg/kg in muscles and feathers, respectively. Detection using high-performance liquid chromatography inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS) revealed six As species, including arsenite (As(III)), arsenate (As(V)), dimethylarsinic acid (DMA), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), arsenobetaine (AsB) and arsenocholine (AsC), with the former three species as the dominant (>92%) and the latter three as the minor As species (<6.17%). Further analysis of the selected bird samples using the X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) technique revealed the existence of As(III)-tris-glutathione (As(III)-GSH), which can be regarded as equivalent to the non-extractable and unidentified As form in the HPLC-ICP-MS data. Both methods revealed similar patterns of As species in the birds from the As mine, with muscles containing mainly inorganic As and DMA and feathers containing mainly inorganic As. The results of this study contribute to the knowledge regarding As accumulation and speciation in terrestrial organisms.