A Cost-Effective Technology for Arsenic Removal: Case Study of Zerovalent Iron-Based IIT Bombay Arsenic Filter in West Bengal

  • Tuhin BanerjiEmail author
  • Sanjeev Chaudhari


Arsenic is present in groundwater in some parts of India. Despite the fact that a variety of treatment methods are available, the efficiency of these methods is not fully known. With the revision of Indian standards for permissible levels of arsenic in drinking water to 10 μg/L or lower, it is necessary to develop a treatment method, which meets drinking water standards of 10 μg/L. Iron based adsorbents have been reported to have high affinity for arsenic. Many researchers have also shown that the corrosion of Zero Valent Iron (ZVI) forms Hydrous Ferric Oxide (HFO) which can act as an adsorbent for arsenic. And the oxidation of Fe to Fe has also been reported to oxidize As(III) to As(V). Using this information a ZVI based Arsenic Filter has been developed by Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Test units of the IITB-Arsenic Filter have been installed in the field in four villages in West Bengal. From the results, it is clear that the filter is able to consistently achieve arsenic levels around 10 μg/L for initial arsenic concentrations ranging from 0.06 to 0.4 mg/L. The flowrate of the filtered water is aprox. 600 L/hr. Thereby the IITB-Arsenic Filter is able to consistently provide drinking water for about 200 families on a daily basis. The IITB-Arsenic Filter does not require frequent backwashing/cleaning (cleaning frequency is once in 3 months, and is done by the villagers) and therefore has low operation and maintenance costs. Moreover, it does not require monitoring of flow parameters and is easy-to-operate by unskilled personnel. The Fe/As ratio used in the filter is around 20. Low Fe/As ratios mean lesser sludge generation. Thus it is felt that the IITB Arsenic filter is a suitable technology for rural India.


Arsenic removal Zerovalent iron Iron nails Field trials IIT Bombay arsenic filter 



The authors would like to thank the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, for funding the research work.


  1. 1.
    Mukherjee A, Sengupta MK, Hossain MA, Ahamed S, Das B, Nayak B et al (2006) Arsenic contamination in groundwater: a global perspective with emphasis on the Asian scenario. J Health Popul Nutr 24(2):142–163PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Datta DK, Subramanian V (1997) Texture and mineralogy of sediments from the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system in the Bengal Basin, Bangladesh and their environmental implications. Environ Geol 30(3–4):181–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ahamed S, Sengupta MK, Mukherjee A, Hossain MA, Das B, Nayak B et al (2006) Arsenic groundwater contamination and its health effects in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) in upper and middle Ganga plain, India: a severe danger. Sci Total Environ 370(2–3):310–322CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Reimanna C, Matschullatb J, Birkec M, Salminend R (2009) Arsenic distribution in the environment: the effects of scale. Appl Geochem 24(7):1147–1167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Manning BA, Hunt M, Amrhein C, Yarmoff JA (2002) Arsenic (III) and arsenic (V) reactions with zero valent iron corrosion products. Environ Sci Technol 36:5455–5461CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Huq SMI, Joardar JC, Parvin S, Correll R, Naidu R (2006) Arsenic contamination in food-chain: transfer of arsenic into food materials through groundwater irrigation. J Health Popul Nutr 24(3):305–316PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    WHO (2008) Guidelines for drinking-water quality: incorporating 1st and 2nd addenda, Vol. 1, Recommendations. – 3rd ed., WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data, Geneva. Available at Accessed on 27 July 2008
  8. 8.
    Smith AH, Lopipero PA, Bates MN, Steinmaus CM (2002) Arsenic epidemiology and drinking water standards. Science 296:2145–2146CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bhattacharjee Y (2007) A Sluggish response to humanity’s biggest mass poisoning. Science 315(5819):1659–1661CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Halsey PM (2000) Arsenic contamination study of drinking water in Nepal, ME thesis submitted to Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USAGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Reisinger HJ, Burris DR, Hering JG (2005) Remediation subsurface arsenic contamination with monitored natural attenuation. Environ. Sci. Technol 39(22):458A–464ACrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mathieu J L, Gadgil A J, Kowolik K, Addy SEA (2008) Removing arsenic from contaminated drinking water in rural Bangladesh: Recent fieldwork results & policy implications. 2008 UNC Environmental Symposium Safe and Sustainable Drinking Water in Developing and Developed Countries: Where Science Meets Policy. Available at Accessed on 25 July 2010
  13. 13.
    Mathieu JL, Gadgil AJ, Kowolik K, Qazi S, Agogino AM (2010) Design strategies and preliminary prototype for a low-cost arsenic removal system for rural Bangladesh. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. LBNL paper LBNL-2696E. Available at Accessed on 25 July 2010
  14. 14.
    Ahmad J, Goldar BN, Misra S, Jakariya M (2003) Willingness to pay for arsenic-free, safe drinking water in Bangladesh, World Bank Water and Sanitation Program- South Asia. Available at Accessed on 25 July 2010
  15. 15.
    Ahmad J, Goldar B, Misra S (2005) Value of arsenic-free drinking water to rural households in Bangladesh. J. Environ. Manage 74(2):173–118CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Caldwell BK, Caldwell JC, Mittra SN, Smith W (2003) Searching for an optimum solution to the Bangladesh arsenic crisis. Soc Sci Med 56:2089–2096CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Farrell J, Wang JP, O’Day P, Conklin M (2001) Electrochemical and spectroscopic study of arsenate removal from water using zero valent iron media. Environ Sci Technol 35(10):2026–2032CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Melitas N, Wang J, Conklin M, O’Day P, Farrell J (2002) Understanding soluble arsenate removal kinetics by zero valent iron media. Environ Sci Technol 36:2074–2081CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Nikolaidis NP, Dobbs GM, Lackovic JA (2003) Arsenic removal by zero-valent iron: field, laboratory and modeling studies. Water Res 37:1417–1425CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bang S, Korfiatis GP, Meng X (2005) Removal of arsenic from water by zero valent iron. J Hazard Mater 121(1–3):61–67CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ngai TKK, Shrestha RR, Dangol B, Maharjan M, Murcott SE (2007) Design for sustainable development- Household drinking water filter for arsenic and pathogen treatment in Nepal. J Environ Sci Health-Part A 42(12):1879–1888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mehta VS (2008) Arsenic removal from drinking water using Zero Valent Iron (ZVI). M. Tech. dissertation, Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology BombayGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sutherland D, Swash PM, MacQueen AC, McWilliam LE, Ross DJ, Wood SC (2002) A field based evaluation of household arsenic removal technologies for the treatment of drinking water. Environ Technol 23(12):1385–1404CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Leupin OX, Hug SJ, Badruzzaman ABM (2005) Arsenic removal from Bangladesh tube well water with filter columns containing zero valent iron filings and sand. Environ Sci Technol 39(20):8032–8037CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Dhar RK (2004) A rapid colorimetric method for measuring arsenic concentrations in groundwater. Anal Chim Acta 526:203–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer (India) Pvt. Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Science and EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology BombayPowai, MumbaiIndia

Personalised recommendations