Arsenic Removal from Groundwater Using Sustainable Biochar Filters


Arsenic Removal from Groundwater Using Sustainable Biochar Filters



George W Debs



Globally, arsenic is a widespread contaminant that enters the environment from natural geochemical sources and anthropogenic sources. Trivalent arsenic is more toxicologically potent than pentavalent arsenic. Arsenic exposure can result in gastrointestinal illnesses, various types of cancers (skin, bladder, lung, kidney, liver) and death. Arsenic is also linked with skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, neurological effects and diabetes. Although inorganic arsenic is found in soil and water, according to the World Health Organization, arsenic exposure from groundwater presents the greatest hazard to human health. Despite these environmental and public health concerns, there is no sustainable solution for mitigating arsenic contamination of water sources in developing countries such as Chile, Mexico, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh. This research study investigates the use of biochar, an inexpensive, renewable material, for the removal of arsenic from groundwater. Biochar has been shown to effectively adsorb heavy metals, oxyanions and organic compounds such as chromium, lead, phosphate, atrazine, phenantherine, naphthaline, and 1-naphtol. Since biochar is a material that can be inexpensively produced from various locally-available feedstock materials (agricultural waste, unused biomass, etc.), biochar could sustainably be used to treat waters in countries that do not have access to large scale treatment plants that require reliable, readily available energy and treatment chemicals. This research project seeks to determine the biochar production methods, biochar physicochemical characteristics, and water quality conditions suitable for efficient arsenic removal from groundwater using point-of-use water treatment systems.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research - Graduate

Primary Advisor

Kenya M. Crosson

Primary Advisor's Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Mechanics


Stander Symposium project

Arsenic Removal from Groundwater Using Sustainable Biochar Filters