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Developments in the analytical chemistry of arsenic to support teaching and learning through research in environmental topics

Richmond Jerry Ampiah-Bonney, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Two manifolds were designed to determine phosphate concentrations. The linear range for the 2-channel manifold was 0 to 30 mg L-1, and that for the 3-channel manifold was 0 to 400 mg L-1. Optimized conditions for the determination of arsenic with molybdenum-blue method were 0.5% w/v ascorbic acid, 0.4 M sulfuric acid in the molybdate solution and 80°C reaction temperature. A method for determination of arsenic using pervaporation flow injection hydride generation with visible spectrophotometry was developed. The method was sensitive for low arsenic concentrations (≤ 10 μg L-1), with sensitivity decreasing as arsenic concentration increased. There was no heating required, and the pervaporation membrane transferred only arsine. The analytical performance of two arsenic test kits was assessed. The Alpha Environmental kit cannot be recommended for arsenic measurement in water. The Hach kit was reliable for measuring arsenic concentrations greater than 70 μg L-1. A modified reaction tube was constructed that allowed NaBH4 solution to be delivered into the reaction mixture to replace zinc powder in the Hach kit, with no loss of gases. A more quantitative way of measuring arsenic using the Hach kit was developed by measuring the B-value of the color of jpeg images of test strips taken by a desktop scanner. Leersia oryzoides grown in soil amended with 110 mg kg-1arsenic extracted up to 305 μg g-1 and 272 μg g-1 arsenic into its shoots and roots respectively, giving a shoot:root quotient (SRQ) of 1.12 and phytoextraction coefficients (PEC) up to 1.3 in greenhouse experiments. Five supervised arsenic-related projects were reported. All except one of these reports fell short of the standards acceptable for a publishable manuscript. Factors such as high expectations, competitive entrance requirements and good motivation were responsible for the publishable report. For the remaining reports, problems with working in a team, relatively low expectations and lack of motivation were responsible. A laboratory-based research subject was successfully investigated in middle school classrooms. The program had been run for four consecutive years. Collaboration with the classroom teacher ensured that the program agreed with the school curriculum. All participants recommended continuation of this program.

Subject Area

Analytical chemistry|Environmental engineering|Science education

Recommended Citation

Ampiah-Bonney, Richmond Jerry, "Developments in the analytical chemistry of arsenic to support teaching and learning through research in environmental topics" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3242370.