Characteristics of Natural Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater and Its Occurrences

자연적 지하수 비소오염의 국내외 산출특성

  • Ahn Joo Sung (Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Division, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources) ;
  • Ko Kyung-Seok (Geological and Environmental Hazards Division, Korea Institue of Geoscience and Mineral Resources) ;
  • Lee Jin-Soo (Geological and Environmental Hazards Division, Korea Institue of Geoscience and Mineral Resources) ;
  • Kim Ju-Yong (Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Gwangju Institute of Science and Engineering)
  • 안주성 (한국지질자원연구원 지하수지열연구부) ;
  • 고경석 (한국지질자원연구원 지질환경재해연구부) ;
  • 이진수 (한국지질자원연구원 지질환경재해연구부) ;
  • 김주용 (광주과학기술원 환경공학과)
  • Published : 2005.12.01


General characteristics of groundwater contamination by As were reviewed with several recent researches, and its occurrence in groundwater of Korea was investigated based on a ffw previous studies and a groundwater quality survey in Nonsan and Geumsan areas. In Bangladesh, which has been known as the most serious arsenic calamity country, about $28\%$ of the shallow groundwaters exceeded the Bangladesh drinking water standard, $50{\mu}g/L$, and it was estimated that about 28 million people were exposed to concentrations greater than the standard. Groundwater was characterized by circum-neutral pH with a moderate to strong reducing conditions. Low concentrations of $SO_4^{2-}$ and $NO_3^-$, and high contents of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and $NH_4^+$ were typical chemical characteristics. Total As concentrations were enriched in the Holocene alluvial aquifers with a dominance of As(III) species. It was generally agreed that reductive dissolution of Fe oxyhydroxides was the main mechanism for the release of As into groundwater coupling with the presence of organic matters and microbial activities as principal factors. A new model has also been suggested to explain how arsenic can naturally contaminate groundwaters far from the ultimate source with transport of As by active tectonic uplift and glaciatiion during Pleistocene, chemical weathering and deposition, and microbial reaction processes. In Korea, it has not been reported to be so serious As contamination, and from the national groundwater quality monitoring survey, only about $1\%$ of grounwaters have concentrations higher than $10{\mu}g/:L.$ However, it was revealed that $19.3\%$ of mineral waters, and $7\%$ of tube-well waters from Nonsan and Geumsan areas contained As concentrations above $10{\mu}g/:L.$. Also, percentages exceeding this value during detailed groundwater quality surveys were $36\%\;and\;22\%$ from Jeonnam and Ulsan areas, respectively, indicating As enrichment possibly by geological factors and local mineralization. Further systematic researches need to proceed in areas potential to As contamination such as mineralized, metasedimentary rock-based, alluvial, and acid sulfate soil areas. Prior to that, it is required to understand various geochemical and microbial processes, and groundwater flow characteristics affecting the behavior of As.


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