Från: Bartshe Miller
Skickat: den 18 december 2010 00:33
Till: Steven Jorsater
Ämne: RE: Arsenic

Dr. Jorsater,

You have many good questions, and I will try and answer them in a general way as I am neither a chemist, nor an expert in arsenic.


We have always known that there were higher than normal levels of arsenic in the lake, but it has never been a concern for humans simply because the lake water is never used for drinking water.  The air quality issue has been a concern, as with Owens Dry Lake, and trace arsenic compounds that take to the air at less than 10 microns. This is of great concern and is factored into the U.S. EPA’s air quality restrictions for particulate matter.  Arsenic in the water, coming in contact with human skin is not as well studied, but limited evidence suggests that it is not a real concern compared to ingesting arsenic.


As for arsenic in the ecosystem, it is not well-studied.  Only last year did a graduate student begin research on the chemistry of arsenic on alkali flies and brine shrimp.  Somehow these organisms have come to flourish in great mass despite unusually high arsenic concentrations. Overall, the presence of arsenic is another one of the ingredients that make Mono Lake water an extreme environment for life (yet a productive one).


The chemistry of arsenic is highly complex, and not all arsenic compounds are found in the same concentration throughout the lake’s water column and its sediments.  Variability exists and so does toxicity relative to people and other organisms.


We are in the process of writing additional material concerning the chemistry of Mono Lake and its arsenic. 


Thanks for your interest,


Bartshé Miller



Bartshé Miller, Education Director
Mono Lake Committee
(760) 647-6595 | (760) 647-6386 x121
Hwy 395 at Third Street, P.O.  Box 29, Lee Vining, CA 93541 |


From: Steven Jörsäter
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 1:10 AM
Subject: Arsenic




Congratulation to the recent enormous world wide interest in Mono Lake due to the discovery of the arsenic adapted bacteria. The lake seems to have a fascinating natural history being important also to native Americans. I have read some of the online material about this lake. Surprisingly, the perhaps most important fact about the lake, is not mentioned anywhere. According to the now famous paper by Wolfe-Simon and coworkers Mono Lake has “high dissolved arsenic concentrations” of 200 micromolars. The high abundance of arsenic is indeed the whole point of the paper.


But nowhere in your material I find any discussion how wildlife including humans have been able to avoid widespread arsenic poisoning while consuminging food derived from the lake. Indeed, how has enrichment of arsenic in, say, birds of prey been avoided? Had a Mono Lake like environment been created by humans it would have been considered a lethal poison dump. I would be most interested to learn more about this.

Please forward this message to the appropriate experts if needed.




Dr. Steven Jorsater



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