Scientific article

Antimony in the environment: a review focused on natural waters : I. Occurence

Published inEarth-science reviews, vol. 57, no. 1-2, p. 125-176
Publication date2002

Antimony is ubiquitously present in the environment as a result of natural processes and human activities. It exists mainly as Sb(III) and Sb(V) in environmental, biological and geochemical samples. Antimony and its compounds are considered to be priority pollutants interest by the USEPA and the EU. In this first review paper on antimony occurrence in natural waters, 420 papers on freshwaters, marine waters, estuaries, soils, and sediments have been reviewed. All data are quoted from the original sources. Typical concentrations of total dissolved antimony are usually less than 1.0 μg/l in non-polluted waters. When redox speciation determinations are performed, most studies report the dominance of Sb(V) under oxic conditions. However, the presence of significant proportions of Sb(III) is sometimes detected. This is in contrast with thermodynamic equilibrium predictions and discrepancies are often attributed to biological activity or kinetic effects but proofs are lacking. Similarly, the existence of Sb(V), although not thermodynamically predicted, is often reported under anoxic conditions. Low concentrations of methylated antimony species are mentioned in a few studies. Antimony is not considered to be a highly reactive element in oceans, with concentrations of the order of 200 ng/l. In estuarine waters, both conservative and non-conservative behaviours are reported depending on the estuaries' characteristics. Elevated concentrations of antimony in soils and sediments are either related to anthropogenic sources or associated with high arsenic concentrations in sulfidic ores. Antimony appears to be highly unreactive in soils. Low accumulation factors are reported in algae. Airborne supply of antimony to aquatic and terrestrial systems seems to be important in systems far from direct pollution sources. However, the limited available data do not allow firm conclusions to be drawn on the reactivity and cycling of the element in natural systems and a list of research priorities is given.

  • Antimony
  • Freshwater
  • Seawater
  • Estuaries
  • Sediments
  • Soils
  • Speciation
Citation (ISO format)
FILELLA, Montserrat, BELZILE, Nelson, CHEN, Yu-Wei. Antimony in the environment: a review focused on natural waters : I. Occurence. In: Earth-science reviews, 2002, vol. 57, n° 1-2, p. 125–176. doi: 10.1016/S0012-8252(01)00070-8
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0012-8252

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