The Raman spectra of synthetic compounds equivalent to the variscite group: FeAsO4·2H2O AlAsO4·2H2O, GaAsO4·2H2O, and InAsO4·2H2O are reported. In particular, upon comparison of FeAsO4·2H2O to AlAsO4·2H2O, it is observed that the Type II (weak) H-bond lengths in the latter are slightly longer, which is postulated to affect the stability (As release) in water at pH 5 and 7. Arsenate stretching and bending vibrations were found to be distinct in terms of spectral structure and therefore well suited for fingerprinting. The calculated AsO bond strengths from existing crystallographic data showed no significant variations. The strongest ν1 (AsO43−) stretch was used to monitor the AsO bonding interactions in the four AsOM units, where a shift of 114 cm−1 was observed in the order FeAsO4·2H2O (lowest) < InAsO4·2H2O < GaAsO4·2H2O < AlAsO4·2H2O (highest); this order also followed exactly the measured arsenic release of these phases. This shift in ν1 (AsO43−) position was rationalized to stem from the differences in the electronegativities of the M3+ cations. The trends mentioned above were verified and found to also hold for the isostructural phosphate analogues strengite (FePO4·2H2O) and variscite (AlPO4·2H2O) using published data. Therefore, it is postulated that, as observed with the stability of solution complexes, there may be a correlation between the electronegativity of the M3+ cation in these isostructural phases and their stability (As or P release) in water. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.