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The selenate ion is SeO2−
The element selenium exhibits several valence states. Selenate is the least reduced, followed by selenite, and elemental selenium. The valence state is an important factor to the toxicity of selenium. Selenate is the form required by organisms that need selenium as a micronutrient. These organisms have the ability to acquire, metabolize and excrete selenium. The level at which selenium becomes toxic varies from species to species and is related to other environmental factors like pH and alkalinity that influence the concentration of selenite over selenate.
Selenate and other forms of selenium are highest in areas where ancient seas have evaporated. These areas are enriched in selenium and over millennia, biologic adaptation has occurred.
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