Abstract

Organoarsenic drugs such as roxarsone and 4-arsanilic acid are poultry feed additives widely used in US broilers to prevent coccidosis and to enhance growth and pigmentation. Despite their veterinary benefits there has been growing concern about their use because over 90% of these drugs are released intact into litter, which is often sold as a fertilizing supplement. The biochemical degradation of these antimicrobials in the litter matrix can release significant amounts of soluble As<sup>III</sup> and As<sup>V</sup> to the environment, representing a potential environmental risk. Silver/polydimethylsiloxane (Ag/PDMS) nanocomposites are a class of surfaceenhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates that have proven effective for the sensitive, reproducible, and field-adaptable detection of aromatic acids in water. The work presented herein uses for the first time Ag/PDMS nanocomposites as substrates for the detection and characterization of trace amounts of roxarsone, 4-arsanilic acid, and acetarsone in water. The results gathered in this study show that organoarsenic species are distributed into the PDMS surface where the arsonic acid binds onto the embedded silver nanoparticles, enhancing its characteristic 792 cm<sup>–1</sup> stretching band. The chemisorption of the drugs to the metal facilitates its detection and characterization in the parts per million to parts per billion range. An extensive analysis of the distinct spectroscopic features of each drug is presented with emphasis on the interactions of the arsonic acid, amino, and nitro groups with the metal surface. The benefits of SERS based methods for the study of arsenic drugs are also discussed.

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