The distribution of inorganic arsenic species must be preserved in the field to eliminate changes caused by metal oxyhydroxide precipitation, photochemical oxidation, and redox reactions. Arsenic species sorb to iron and manganese oxyhydroxide precipitates, and arsenite can be oxidized to arsenate by photolytically produced free radicals in many sample matrices. Several preservatives were evaluated to minimize metal oxyhydroxide precipitation, such as inorganic acids and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). EDTA was found to work best for all sample matrices tested. Storing samples in opaque polyethylene bottles eliminated the effects of photochemical reactions. The preservation technique was tested on 71 groundwater and six acid mine drainage samples. Concentrations in groundwater samples reached 720 ??g-As/L for arsenite and 1080 ??g-As/L for arsenate, and acid mine drainage samples reached 13 000 ??g-As/L for arsenite and 3700 ??g-As/L for arsenate. The arsenic species distribution in the samples ranged from 0 to 90% arsenite. The stability of the preservation technique was established by comparing laboratory arsenic speciation results for samples preserved in the field to results for subsamples speciated onsite. Statistical analyses indicated that the difference between arsenite and arsenate concentrations for samples preserved with EDTA in opaque bottles and field speciation results were analytically insignificant. The percentage change in arsenite:arsenate ratios for a preserved acid mine drainage sample and groundwater sample during a 3-month period was -5 and +3%, respectively.
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Preserving the distribution of inorganic arsenic species in groundwater and acid mine drainage samples