Arsenic accumulation by rice grown in soil treated with roxarsone

Chen Wuing Liu, Ching Chieh Lin, Cheng Shin Jang, Guey Rong Sheu, Lo Tsui

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30 Scopus citations


Poultry litter is widely used as a fertilizer for lowland rice in Taiwan and China. However, the organic-arsenic compound roxarsone (additive of poultry feed) in poultry litter can be absorbed by the plants and the resulting arsenic (As) contamination may pose a serious threat to human health. This study used various amounts of poultry litter contaminated with roxarsone in pot experiments to evaluate the effect of roxarsone on rice agronomic parameters and the bioaccumulation of total and inorganic As in rice-plant tissues. Rice-grain yield decreased significantly with increasing As content of the soil, and the critical threshold that killed rice was 200 mg roxarsone (kg soil)-1. The As concentrations in root, straw, leaf, husk, and grain increased with increasing soil As (p < 1%). At 100 mg roxarsone per kg of soil, the As concentration in the rice grain exceeded the statutory permissible limit of 1.0 mg As (kg dry weight)-1 and at 25 mg roxarsone (kg soil) -1, the inorganic As concentrations in grains exceeded the statutory limit of 0.15 mg of inorganic As kg-1 in China. For all treatments, the As concentrations in various plant tissues at maturity follow the order: root > stem > leaf > husk > grain. Arsenite was the predominant species in root, straw, and grain, while arsenate was the predominant species in leaf and husk. No significant difference existed between the amounts of arsenite and arsenate when various amounts of poultry litter were applied. This result illustrates that large amounts of added roxarsone are not only toxic to rice but also accumulate in grains in the inorganic As forms, potentially posing a threat to human health via the food chain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-556
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Arsenate
  • Arsenite
  • Oryza Sativa L.
  • Poultry manure
  • Taiwan


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