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Title: Arsenite  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Arsenites, Metalloestrogen, Oxoanions, Photosynthesis, Oxyanion
Collection: Arsenites, Oxoanions
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


In chemistry, an arsenite is a chemical compound containing an arsenic oxoanion where arsenic has oxidation state +3. Note that in fields that commonly deal with groundwater chemistry, arsenite is used generically to identify soluble AsIII anions. IUPAC have recommended that arsenite compounds are to be named as arsenate(III), for example ortho-arsenatite is called trioxidoarsenate(III). Ortho-arsenite contrasts to the corresponding anions of the lighter members of group 15, phosphite which has the structure HPO32− and nitrite, NO2 which is bent.[1]

A number of different arsenite anions are known:

  • AsO33− ortho-arsenite, an ion of arsenous acid, with a pyramidal shape[1]
  • [AsO2]n meta-arsenite, a polymeric chain anion.[2]
  • As2O54− pyro-arsenite, O2As-O-AsO2
  • As3O75− a polyarsenite, [O2As-O-As(O)-O-AsO2][3]
  • As4O96− a polyarsenite, [O2As-O-As(O)-O-As(O)-O-AsO2][3]
  • [As6O114−]n, a polymeric anion

In all of these the geometry around the AsIII centers are approximately trigonal, the lone pair on the arsenic atom is stereochemically active.[1] Well known examples of arsenites include sodium meta-arsenite which contains a polymeric linear anion, [AsO2]n, and silver ortho-arsenite, Ag3AsO3, which contains the trigonal, AsO33− anion.


  • Preparation of arsenites 1
  • Arsenite minerals 2
  • Arsenites in the environment 3
  • Uses 4
  • Bacteria using and generating arsenite 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Preparation of arsenites

Some arsenite salts can be prepared from an aqueous solution of As2O3. Examples of these are the meta-arsenite salts and at low temperature, hydrogen arsenite salts can be prepared, such as Na2(H2As4O8), NaAsO2·4H2O, Na2(HAsO3)·5 H2O and Na5(HAsO3)(AsO3)·12H2O [4]

Arsenite minerals

A number of minerals contain arsenite anions, Reinerite, Zn3(AsO3)2,[2] Finnemanite, Pb5Cl(AsO3)3,[2] Paulmooreite, Pb2As2O5,[2] Stenhuggarite, CaFeSbAs2O7, (contains complex polymeric anion),[2] Schneiderhöhnite, FeIIFeIII3(As2O5)2 AsO3,[5] Magnussonite Mn5(OH)(AsO3)3,[2] Trippkeite, CuAs2O4,[2] Trigonite, Pb3Mn(AsO3)2(HAsO3),[2] Tooeleite, Fe6(AsO3)4SO4(OH)4·4H2O [6]

Arsenites in the environment

Arsenic can enter groundwater due to naturally occurring arsenic at deeper levels or from mine workings. Arsenic(III) can be removed from water by a number of methods, oxidation of AsIII to AsV for example with chlorine followed by coagulation with for example iron(III) sulfate. Other methods include ion-exchange and filtration. Filtration is only effective if arsenic is present as particulates, if the arsenite is in solution it passes though the filtration membrane.[7]


Sodium arsenite is used in the water gas shift reaction to remove carbon dioxide. Fowler's solution first introduced in the 18th century was made up from As2O3 [8] as a solution of potassium meta arsenite, KAsO2.[9]

Bacteria using and generating arsenite

Some species of bacteria obtain their energy by oxidizing various fuels while reducing arsenates to form arsenites. The enzymes involved are known as arsenate reductases.

In 2008, bacteria were discovered that employ a version of

  • Case Studies in Environmental Medicine - Arsenic Toxicity
  • Page at

External links

  1. ^ a b c  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Carmalt, C.J & Norman, N.C. (1998). "Chapter 1: Arsenic, antimony and bismuth". In Norman, N.C. Chemistry of Arsenic, Antimony and Bismuth. Blackie Academic and Professional. pp. 118–121.  
  3. ^ a b Hamida, M. Ben; Wickleder, M. S. (2006). "Die neuencatena-Polyarsenite [As3O7]5− und [As4O9]6—". Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie 632 (12-13): 2109–2109.  
  4. ^ Sheldrick, W. S.; Häusler, H.-J. (1987). "Zur Kenntnis von Natriumarseniten im Dreistoffsystem Na2O–As2O3–H2O bei 6°C". Zeitschrift für anorganische und allgemeine Chemie 549 (6): 177–186.  
  5. ^ Hawthorne, Frank C. "Schneiderhoehnite, Fe (super 2+) Fe 3 (super 3+) As 5 (super 3+) O 13, a densely packed arsenite structure." The Canadian Mineralogist 23.4 (1985): 675-679.
  6. ^ Morin, G.; Rousse, G.; Elkaim, E. (2007). "Crystal structure of tooeleite, Fe6(AsO3)4SO4(OH)4{middle dot}4H2O, a new iron arsenite oxyhydroxy-sulfate mineral relevant to acid mine drainage". American Mineralogist 92 (1): 193–197.  
  7. ^ EPA, United states Environmental Protection Agency, Report 815R00012, Technologies and Costs for the Removal of Arsenic From Drinking Water, December 2000
  8. ^ Managing Arsenic in the Environment: From Soil to Human Health, R. Naidu, Csiro Publishing, 2006, isbn: 9780643068681
  9. ^ Jolliffe, D. M. (1993). "A history of the use of arsenicals in man" (pdf). Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 86 (5): 287–289.  
  10. ^ Arsenic-loving bacteria rewrite photosynthesis rules, Chemistry World, 15 August 2008


In humans, arsenite inhibits pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH complex) in the pyruvate acetyl CoA reaction, and binds to the SH group of lipoamide, a participant coenzyme. In this inhibition, arsenite poisoning affects energy production in the body.


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