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Development of a hybrid sorbent composed of natural materials for the removal of arsenic from waters
A novel sorbent has been developed by immobilizing chitosan onto pumice for As(V) sorption from waters. In order to ensure its functionality, sorption performance was determined by measuring As concentrations in water using hydride generation atomic absorption spectrometry. The success of the immobilization was checked with characterization techniques as scanning electron microscopy, thermal gravimetric analysis, and elemental analysis. Points of zero charges were determined with potentiometric mass titration. Batch type equilibration studies showed that the sorbent can be employed at a wide pH range resulting in quantitative sorption (>90%) at pH 3.0-7.0, and greater than 70% sorption at pH>8.0. These results demonstrate the advantage of immobilizing chitosan onto pumice, because, under the same conditions, pumice displays <20% sorption towards As(V) whereas chitosan gives approximately 90% sorption but only at pH 3.0. The validity of the method was verified through the analysis of ultra-pure, bottled drinking, and tap water samples spiked with arsenate; the respective sorption percentages of 93.2 (±0.7), 89.0 (±1.0), and 80.9 (±1.3) were obtained by batch type equilibration. The sorbent was applied in a column for the spiked samples of ultra-pure and tap water. Similar sorption percentages (60% at the 18th fraction) were obtained for ultra-pure water whereas the methodology gave more efficient results for tap water (90% at the 20th fraction) demonstrating the potential of the sorbent for an efficient water treatment system. Arsenic sorption was also examined in the presence of common interfering ions resulting in competing effects of PO43- and NO3- on As(V) adsorption.