By: European Commission DG Environment

Iron-coated brown seaweed used to remove arsenic from water

Arsenic is a toxic and carcinogenic semi-metal, which can enter waterways through natural deposits and human activity, including mining, agriculture and industrial activities. Arsenic has been linked to a number of cancers as well as other human health issues. Contamination of groundwater, which is used for drinking water, has been reported in many developing countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Taiwan and Thailand. Waste water released from activities such as mining also requires efficient methods for removing arsenic. The two main forms of arsenic — arsenite and arsenate — are commonly found in water discharged from mines.

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This study proposed a novel process of removing arsenite and arsenate forms of arsenic from water by adsorption on brown seaweed coated with iron-oxy (hydroxides). Adsorption refers to molecules adhering to the surface of a substance. The addition of iron oxy on seaweed creates specific adsorption sites for arsenic.

Source: Vieira, B.R.C., Pintor, A.M.A., Boaventura, R.A.R., Botelho, C.M.S. & Santos, S.C.R. (2017). Arsenic removal from water using iron-coated seaweeds. Journal of Environmental Management, 192:224–233.