Microbial removal of arsenic

Kauser Jahan, Patricia Mosto, Crystal Mattson, Erin Frey, Lara Derchak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Bangladesh is currently the subject of the world's largest mass arsenic poisoning in history. Groundwater throughout Bangladesh and West Bengal is contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic from the alluvial and deltaic sediments that form the region's aquifers. It has been estimated that 75 million people are at risk of developing health effects associated with the ingestion of arsenic. This project focuses on the use of microorganisms such as bacteria and algae to remove arsenic from water. Arsenic in the arsenite form was used in the studies. Experiments were conducted with a common alga and wastewater bacteria. A common green algae Scenedesmus abundans was used for determining arsenic uptake in batch experiments. Results of the experiments indicated that the algae biosorption could be modeled by the conventional Langmuir isotherm model. Algae morphology studies indicated that the algae cells were impacted due to the presence of arsenic as evidenced by clumping or loss of cell clusters. The wastewater bacteria also were capable of high percent of arsenic removal. Results indicate that microbial uptake of arsenic may be a viable method of pretreatment of arsenic contaminated water. However algae and sludge disposal would pose a problem and will have to be dealt with accordingly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-82
Number of pages12
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution: Focus
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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