Effectiveness of Arsenic Co-Precipitation with Fe-Al Hydroxides for Treatment of Contaminated Water

ABSTRACT Wastewater treatment is a challenging problem faced by the mining industry, especially when mine effluents include acid mine drainage with elevated arsenic levels. Iron (hydr)oxides are known to be effective in removal of As from wastewater, and although the resulting compounds are relatively unstable, the presence of structural Al enhances their stability, particularly under reducing conditions. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of Al-Fe (hydr)oxide co-precipitates for the removal of As from wastewater and to assess the chemical stability of the products. Different Al-Fe (hydr)oxides were synthesized at room temperature from ferrous and aluminum salts using three different Fe:Al molar ratios (1:0.0, 1:0.3, and 1:0.7) and aged for 90 days (sulfate experiments) or 120 days (chloride experiments) in the presence of arsenic. At the end of the aging periods, the precipitated sludges were dried and characterized in order to evaluate their stability and therefore potential As mobility. All treatments were effective in reducing As levels in the water to below 10 µg L-1, but the presence of Al impaired the effectiveness of the treatment. Aluminum decreased the chemical stability of the precipitated sludge and hence its ability to retain As under natural environmental conditions.