Exploring the arsenic removal potential of various biosorbents from water

Muhammad Bilal Shakoor, Nabeel Khan Niazi, Irshad Bibi, Muhammad Shahid, Zulfiqar Ahmad Saqib, Muhammad Farrakh Nawaz, Sabry M. Shaheen, Hailong Wang, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Jochen Bundschuh, Yong Sik Ok, Jörg Rinklebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, contamination of groundwater with toxic arsenic (As) is an environmental and public health issue given to its carcinogenic properties, thereby threatening millions of people relying on drinking As-contaminated well water. Here, we explored the efficiency of various biosorbents (egg shell, java plum seed, water chestnut shell, corn cob, tea waste and pomegranate peel) for arsenate (As(V)) and arsenite (As(III)) removal from As-contaminated water. Significantly, egg shell and java plum seed displayed the greatest As(III) elimination (78–87%) at 7 pH followed by water chestnut shell (75%), corn cob (67%), tea waste (74%) and pomegranate peel (65%). In contrast, 71% and 67% of As(V) was removed at pH 4.1 and 5.3 by egg shell and java plum seed, respectively. The maximum As(V) and As(III) sorption by all the biosorbents was obtained, notably for egg shell and java plum seed, after 2 h contact time. Langmuir isotherm and pseudo-second order models best fitted the sorption data for both forms of As. The –OH, –COOH, –NH2 and sulfur-bearing surface functional groups were possibly involved for As(III) and As(V) removal by biosorbents. The scanning electron microscopy combined with the energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDX) analysis showed that the heterogeneous surface of biosorbents, possessing rough and irregular areas, could have led to As sorption. Both As(V) and As(III) were successfully desorbed (up to 97%) from the biosorbents in four sorption/desorption (regeneration) cycles. This pilot-scale study highlights that egg shell and java plum seed have the greatest ability to remove both As species from As-contaminated drinking water. Importantly, these findings provide insights to develop an inexpensive, effective and sustainable filtration technology for the treatment of As in drinking water, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-579
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb


  • Arsenic contamination
  • Drinking water
  • Filtration materials
  • Groundwater
  • Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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