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Arsenic in bedrock, soil and groundwater - The first arsenic guidelines for aggregate production established in Finland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)709-723
Number of pages15
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Concern over arsenic (As)-rich drinking water has gained worldwide attention since the 1990s, when the prob- lem was discovered in West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh. Since then, authorities and research institutes have focused on risk assessment and management for As in Finland. Nationwide geochemical mapping projects determined background levels and revealed regions with a higher than average As content in bedrock and soil. Approximately 10% of the citizens in Finland use drinking water from private wells. Groundwater, especially from drilled bedrock wells, may contain As concentrations higher than 10 μg/L, the European Union quality guideline for As in drinking water. Here, we present the outcome of two European Union projects, RAMAS and ASROCKS, which based their conclusions on nationwide databases and thousands of samples. Both RAMAS and ASROCKS focused on the Tampere-Häme region of Southern Finland, where bedrock and soil contain more As than in other parts of Finland on average. Over 1000 groundwater samples revealed that drilled bedrock wells may contain As-rich water in certain geological units. Naturally occurring As in bedrock and soil may also cause themobilization of As during rock aggregate production and construction activities, potentially impacting on groundwater aquifers, surface waters, and biota. Arsenic concentrations in aggregate production and con- struction exceeded the regional background levels in some bedrock and aggregate product samples, but during leaching tests As concentrations were found to be low. Based on the results, riskmanagement toolswere revised and guidelines for the rock aggregate industry were established in cooperation with authorities, companies, and other stakeholders. To our knowledge, the guidelines establishedwere the first in theworld. The guidelines for As for the aggregate and construction industries can be applied in other countries and adapted to local conditions.

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Arsenic, Bedrock, Construction, Groundwater, Risk management, Rock aggregates, Soil, Surface water

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland