Bioaccumulation and Biotransformation of Arsenic by Marine Algae in Hawaii

National Institute for Water Resources, Water Resources Research Institute Program

3/1/2012 – 2/28/2013

Marine algae are known to bioaccumulate and transform Arsenic (AS). AS was used in earlier decades as a pesticide on agricultural fields in Hawaii. Macroalgae collected at some sites on the shore of Oahu have been found to contain elevated concentrations of AS. Runoff of contaminated former agricultural fields is the suspected source. Furthermore, several species of macroalgae are commonly gathered and consumed as human food. We have collected samples of one or more algae species from beaches around the island of Oahu. We analyzed these samples for the amount and species of arsenic compounds they contain. We evaluated the findings of these analyses in regard to the geographic distribution of the samples and historical agricultural activities in the areas surrounding the collection sites.

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