Facile reduction of arsenate in methanogenic sludge

Jim A. Field, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, Irail Cortinas, Gumersindo Feijoo, Maria Teresa Moreira, Mike Kopplin, A. Jay Gandolfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Due to the recent enactment of a stricter drinking water standard for arsenate, large quantities of arsenate-laden drinking water residuals will be disposed in municipal landfills. The objective of this study was to determine the role of methanogenic consortia on the conversion of arsenate. Methanogenic conditions commonly occur in mature municipal solid waste landfills. The results indicate the rapid and facile reduction of arsenate to arsenite in methanogenic sludge. Endogenous substrates in the sludge were sufficient to support the reductive biotransformation. However the rates of arsenate reduction were stimulated by the addition of exogenous electron donating substrates, such as H2, lactate or a mixture of volatile fatty acids. A selective methanogenic inhibitor stimulated arsenate reduction in microcosms supplied with H2, suggesting that methanogens competed with arsenate reducers for the electron donor. Rates of arsenate reduction increased with arsenate concentration up to 2 mM, higher concentrations were inhibitory. The electron shuttle, anthraquinone-2,6-disulfonate, used as a model of humic quinone moieties, was shown to significantly increase rates of arsenate reduction at substoichiometric concentrations. The presence of sulfur compounds, sulfate and sulfide, did not affect the rate of arsenate transformation but lowered the yield of soluble arsenite, due to the precipitation of arsenite with sulfides. The results taken as a whole suggest that arsenate disposed into anaerobic environments may readily be converted to arsenite increasing the mobility of arsenic. The extent of the increased mobility will depend on the concentration of sulfides generated from sulfate reduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-196
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Anaerobic
  • Arsenate
  • Biotransformation
  • Metalloid
  • Microbial
  • Reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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