Arsenic is an element that is ubiquitous in the environment and is known to form compounds with toxic, even carcinogenic properties. Arsenic toxicity is a function of its chemical form (species). Identification of arsenic species is necessary to accurately determine the transformation and fate of arsenicals as well as the actual risk posed by arsenic contamination. We report X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) measurements of 16 biologically important arsenic compounds. Solid and aqueous standards were studied for differences in XANES spectral features, white line positions, stability during exposure to the beam, and stability between two beam exposures separated by 48 h. Samples containing As(III) (11870.0-11871.7 (0.5 eV) and As(V) (11872.6-11875.3 (0.5 eV) were easily distinguished by white line energies and could be further subdivided into a total of seven groups. Valuable examples include As(III)-sulfur compounds (11870.0 (0.5 eV), arsenobetaine and arsenocholine (11872.6 (0.5 eV), and a dimethyl arsinyl riboside (11873.3 (0.5 eV). A growing number of environmental and biological studies use X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) results to complement their more traditional analyses. Results provided here are intended to help make XAS more accessible to new users interested in the study of arsenic in the environment.
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