Selenium speciation in soil extracts using LC-ICP-MS

Jacqueline L. Stroud, Steve P. McGrath, Fang Jie Zhao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Selenium (Se) speciation in soil affects its bioavailability to crops. An analytical procedure for the determination of inorganic Se species (selenite and selenate) in soil extracts by anion-exchange liquid chromatography (LC) with ICP-MS detection has been developed, with 10-fold higher sensitivity than existing HGAAS-based soil Se measurements. A comparison of phosphate extraction solutions on agricultural soils amended with 20 μg kg -1 selenate or selenite was carried out, and a 0.016 M KH 2PO 4 extraction solution is recommended. Recovery of selenate was >91%; however, selenite recovery ranged between 18.5% and 46.1%, due to rapid binding to the soil. Soil preparation did not have a significant (p > 0.05) effect on the extractability of the selenate or selenite amendments. The stability of Se species in the phosphate extracts was variable, depending on temperature and storage time. Therefore, immediate (<1 h) analysis of the soil extracts is preferable. The method developed was applied to the determination of extractable Se from six arable soils in the UK. Extractable Se levels in these soils ranged between 6 and 13 μg kg -1 consisting of selenite and some soluble organic Se.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-236
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPrint publication - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • selenate
  • selenite
  • selenium speciation
  • soil


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