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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 32 No. 2, p. 736-738
    Received: July 1, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): fjperyea@wsu.edu
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Antimony Impurity in Lead Arsenate Insecticide Enhances the Antimony Content of Old Orchard Soils

  1. Sandra E. Wagnera,
  2. Frank J. Peryea *b and
  3. Royston A. Filbyc
  1. a Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545
    b Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Washington State Univ., Wenatchee, WA 98801
    c Dep. of Chemistry, Washington State Univ., Pullman, WA 99164


Lead arsenate was a commonly used insecticide during the first half of the 20th century, particularly in deciduous tree fruit orchards. Antimony is cotransported with As during the ore refining process and could occur as an impurity in commercial lead arsenate products. The total concentrations of As and Sb in eight soil samples collected from eight orchards located throughout central Washington State were analyzed by neutron activation analysis. Total soil Sb concentrations ranged between 0.4 and 1.5 mg kg−1, while total soil As concentration ranged from 1 to 170 mg kg−1 Total soil Sb and As concentrations were positively related. Total Pb and As concentrations in four of the soils were substantially higher than natural background, while the Sb to As concentration ratios in these soils were consistent with values measured in three lead arsenate insecticide products. These results confirm that Sb impurity is present in lead arsenate insecticide and has contributed to Sb enrichment of soils on which lead arsenate–treated plants were grown. Although higher than in uncontaminated soils from the same region, the Sb concentrations in the affected soils fall within the normal range observed worldwide and are substantially lower than values associated with impaired human or environmental health.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.32:736–738.