Core sediments from two boreholes and groundwater from fifty four As-contaminated well waters were collected in the Chapai-Nawabganj area of northwestern Bangladesh for geochemical analysis. Groundwater arsenic concentrations in the uppermost aquifer (10 to 40 m of depth) range from 2.76-315.15 mg/l (average 48.81 mg/l). Arsenic concentration in sediments ranges from 3.26-10 mg/kg. Vertical distribution of arsenic in both groundwater and sediments shows that maximum As concentration (462 mg/l in groundwater and 10 mg/kg in sediments) occurs at a depth of 24 m. In January 2008, 2009 and 2010, maximum As concentration occurs at the same depth. Environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) with EDAX was used to investigate the presence of major and trace elements in the sediments. The dominant groundwater type is Ca-HCO3 with high concentrations of As and Fe, but with low levels of NO3- and SO4-2. Statistical analysis clearly shows that As is closely associated with Fe (R2 = 0.64) and Mn (R2 = 0.91) in sediments while As is not correlated with Fe and Mn in groundwater samples. Comparatively low Fe and Mn concentrations in some groundwater, suggest that probably siderite and/or rhodochrosite precipitated as secondary mineral on the surface of the sediment particles. The correlations along with results of sequential leaching experiments suggest that reductive dissolution of FeOOH and MnOOH mediated by anaerobic bacteria represents mechanism for releasing arsenic into the groundwater.
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