Biological As(III) oxidation in rapid sand filters

J. C.J. Gude*, L. C. Rietveld, D. van Halem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


The objective of this study was to investigate whether arsenic-oxidising bacteria (AsOB) will grow and survive in rapid sand filters. Additionally, the interdependence of other groundwater constituents (Fe(II), Mn(II), NH4) with biological As(III) oxidation was investigated. For this purpose As(III) oxidation was monitored in pilot-scale filter sand columns fed with raw groundwater, as well as treated groundwater (drinking water) with spikes of either As(III), Mn(II) or NH4. It was concluded that biological As(III) oxidation rapidly developed in the rapid sand filter columns. With a typical lag and log phase, decreasing As(III) and increasing As(V) concentrations in the effluent of the sand columns were observed in a timeframe of weeks. The growth of biomass in the sand columns was confirmed with ATP analysis. ATP concentrations on the sand grains increased from 0.7 ng/g to 16, 8 and 2 ng/g filter sand stratified from the top of the sand filter to the bottom, respectively. Additionally, a microbial community analysis (16S rRNA) showed a high relative abundance of α- and β-Proteobacteria; the same classes where most AsOB are phylogenetically placed. This study establishes that AsOB are able to grow and maintain their population on low As(III) concentrations, either in presence, or absence, of other common groundwater bacteria and mineral precipitates, directly leading to an increased As removal in the filter bed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Water Process Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Arsenic removal
  • Biological As(III) oxidation
  • Groundwater treatment
  • Rapid sand filtration


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