Author(s) de Menezes, M.Duarte; Bispo, F.Henrique A.; Faria, W.Missina; Gonçalves, M.Gabriele M.; Curi, N.; Guilherme, L.Roberto Gu
Journal Sci Total Environ
Date Published 2020 Apr 10

Arsenic accumulation in the environment poses ecological and human health risks. A greater knowledge about soil total As content variability and its main drivers is strategic for maintaining soil security, helping public policies and environmental surveys. Considering the poor history of As studies in Brazil at the country's geographical scale, this work aimed to generate predictive models of topsoil As content using machine learning (ML) algorithms based on several environmental covariables representing soil forming factors, ranking their importance as explanatory covariables and for feeding group analysis. An unprecedented databank based on laboratory analyses (including rare earth elements), proximal and remote sensing, geographical information system operations, and pedological information were surveyed. The median soil As content ranged from 0.14 to 41.1 mg kg in reference soils, and 0.28 to 58.3 mg kg in agricultural soils. Recursive Feature Elimination Random Forest outperformed other ML algorithms, ranking as most important environmental covariables: temperature, soil organic carbon (SOC), clay, sand, and TiO. Four natural groups were statistically suggested (As content ± standard error in mg kg): G1) with coarser texture, lower SOC, higher temperatures, and the lowest TiO contents, has the lowest As content (2.24 ± 0.50), accomplishing different environmental conditions; G2) organic soils located in floodplains, medium TiO and temperature, whose As content (3.78 ± 2.05) is slightly higher than G1, but lower than G3 and G4; G3) medium contents of As (7.14 ± 1.30), texture, SOC, TiO, and temperature, representing the largest number of points widespread throughout Brazil; G4) the largest contents of As (11.97 ± 1.62), SOC, and TiO, and the lowest sand content, with points located mainly across Southeastern Brazil with milder temperature. In the absence of soil As content, a common scenario in Brazil and in many Latin American countries, such natural groups could work as environmental indicators.

DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.136511
ISSN 1879-1026
Citation de Menezes MD, Bispo FH, Faria WM, Gonçalves MG, Curi N, Guilherme LR. Modeling arsenic content in Brazilian soils: What is relevant? Sci Total Environ. 2020;712:136511.