Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 28, pp 28572–28582 | Cite as

Interpreting competitive adsorption of arsenate and phosphate on nanosized iron (hydr)oxides: effects of pH and surface loading

  • Junho Han
  • Hee-Myong Ro
Research Article


Arsenate and phosphate have similar properties due to their electrochemical structures, but their environmental impacts are unique. The abundance and competition of arsenate and phosphate determine their bioavailability and leachability; thus, it is essential to understand their fate in the soil environment. In this study, the effects of pH and surface loading on the competitive adsorption of arsenate and phosphate on four iron (hydr)oxides were evaluated by employing the Langmuir isotherm, competitive sorption ratio (CSR), and competition effect (CE). The stability and transformation of the iron (hydr)oxides were also assessed. Various adsorption patterns were observed in the single and mixed treatments by controlling the addition of oxyanions, pH, surface loading, and type of iron (hydr)oxides. Arsenate was preferentially adsorbed at a low pH, whereas phosphate showed the opposite trend. The CEAs(V),P(V) was close to zero at low surface density (no competition) and sequentially changed to negative or positive values with increasing surface density, indirectly indicating the sequential development of promotive and competitive effects. Transformation in goethite was identified at a high pH with the presence of oxyanions, except that no transformation was observed upon the addition of oxyanions and with pH change. However, the stability of the iron (hydr)oxides decreased at a low pH and with the presence of phosphate, arsenate, or both. The hematite showed a significant promotive effect regardless of the pH. Our study revealed that the pH, surface loading, and type of iron (hydr)oxides are intercorrelated and simultaneously affect the adsorption characteristics of oxyanions and the stability of iron (hydr)oxides.


Iron (hydr)oxide Arsenate Phosphate Langmuir isotherm Competitive sorption ratio Competitive effect 


Funding information

This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program (NRF-2014R1A1A2059196) and Global Ph.D. Fellowship Program (NRF-2015H1A2A1034068) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and by the Brain Korea 21 Plus Program funded by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2897_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1516 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Biotechnology and Research Institute of Agriculture and Life SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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