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Volume 2 (2002), Pages 1667-1675
Research Article

Atmospheric Emissions, Depositions, and Transformations of Arsenic in Natural Ecosystem in Finland

1Department of Limnology and Environmental Protection, P.O. Box 62, FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
2Division of Land and Water Resources, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Received 19 December 2001; Revised 2 May 2002; Accepted 8 May 2002

Copyright © 2002 Arun B. Mukherjee and Prosun Bhattacharya.


For the last 2 decades, special attention has been paid to arsenic due to its high concentration in groundwater in many regions of the globe. There are not very many reports on arsenic concentration in the Finnish ecosystem, although the metal has been known to be highly toxic since ancient times. For the majority of people in Finland, the leading exposure route to arsenic is through food consumption.

In this study, it has been observed that atmospheric emissions of arsenic from anthropogenic sources have decreased by 90%, which is due to better control technology and strict regulation. Aquatic discharge also was attenuated from 7.1 metric tons (t) in 1990 to 0.7 t in 1999. The concentration of arsenic aerosols in the atmosphere in Finland varies between 0.46 to 0.75 ng m–3. Its use in pesticides and insecticides also has been phased out in Finland. There is no information available regarding arsenic species in the Finnish environment.

Elevated concentrations of arsenic in groundwater has been reported for many countries. In Finland two hot spots are reported – one in the south of Finland and the second in Lapland. In these areas, arsenic concentration in well water is greater than 10 μg l–1 (WHO recommended value: <10 μg l–1). It is believed that the release of arsenic into the Finnish groundwater is geogenic.