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January 5, 1935


JAMA. 1935;104(1):50-51. doi:10.1001/jama.1935.02760010052014

Selenium is an unusual element, and little is known concerning its distribution and actions. Since Frank traced the cause of an animal disease known locally as "alkali disease" to the vegetation grown on certain definite soil areas, and the U. S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils subsequently detected selenium in the vegetation of these areas, interest has been definitely aroused. The presence of selenium has been traced from plant to soil and from soil to parent shales. Among the shales known to contain selenium is the Pierre shale, in certain sections of which occur nodules of iron pyrites. One of these nodules was found to contain 205 parts per million of selenium. Williams and Byers1 examined soils and shales from various regions for selenium content. From the quantitative results obtained, selenium is of much wider distribution in soils and vegetation than has heretofore been suspected. Probably in arid and