Occurrence and treatment of arsenic in groundwater and soil in northern Mexico and southwestern USA


This review focuses on the occurrence and treatment of arsenic (As) in the arid region of northern Mexico (states of Chihuahua and Coahuila) and bordering states of the southwestern US (New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas), an area known for having high As concentrations. Information assembled and assessed includes the content and probable source of As in water, soil, and sediments and treatment methods that have been applied in the area. High As concentrations were found mainly in groundwater, their source being mostly from natural origin related to volcanic processes with significant anthropogenic contributions near mining and smelting of ores containing arsenic. The affinity of As for solid phases in alkaline conditions common to arid areas precludes it from being present in surface waters, accumulating instead in sediments and shifting its threat to its potential remobilization in reservoir sediments and irrigation waterways. Factors such as oxidation and pH that affect the mobility of As in the subsurface environment are mentioned. Independent of socio-demographic variables, nutritional status, and levels of blood lead, cognitive development in children is being affected when exposed to As. Treatments known to effectively reduce As content to safe drinking water levels as well as those that are capable of reducing As content in soils are discussed. Besides conventional methods, emergent technologies, such as phytoremediation, offer a viable solution to As contamination in drinking water.


Geography, Geology, and Planning

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arsenic, Northern México, Southwestern US, groundwater contamination, sediment, treatments

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