Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Cathleen Webb (Director), Dr. Bangbo Yan, Dr. Rui Zhang

Degree Program

Department of Chemistry

Degree Type

Master of Science


Heavy metal contamination is a serious concern throughout the world. Increased concentrations in drinking water have many negative impacts on human health. Limestone is an inexpensive and simple media for removing high concentrations of heavy metals from drinking water supplies. Ferric based media is commonly used to remove zinc, cadmium, lead, arsenic and other heavy metals. The drinking water standards set by the US EPA for cadmium, zinc and arsenic are 0.005 mg/L, 5 mg/L and 0.010 mg/L respectively. Bangladesh, parts of India, China and the United States have high concentrations of arsenic in drinking water. Although many technologies exist for heavy metal removal, most of these are complicated and are associated with high costs making them ineffective and unfavorable to be used in impoverished areas.

We propose a novel method that combines the benefits of limestone with the capacity of ferric media in an iron-coated limestone based material. Samples of water with various concentrations of zinc and cadmium were prepared and batch tests were performed using both uncoated and iron coated limestone and are compared in removal efficiency. Kinetics studies showed that zinc is removed to a maximum level after 24 hours, while cadmium takes only 15 minutes. The effect of pH on removal of heavy metals was also studied. Metals are analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-ES). Limestone is readily available and is also easy to coat with iron, making this material a cost effective and affordable method to be used by developing countries.


Chemistry | Environmental Chemistry | Materials Chemistry