The presence of arsenic in groundwater has been of great public concern because of its high toxicity. For purification of arsenic-contaminated groundwater, bacterial oxidation of arsenite, As(III), with a chemical adsorption process was examined in this study. After As(III) oxidation to arsenate, As(V), arsenic is easily removable from contaminated groundwater because As(V) is more adsorptive to absorbents than As(III). By acclimation to As(III) of high concentrations, a mixed culture of heterotrophic bacteria with high As(III)-oxidizing activity was obtained from a soil sample that was free from contamination. With initial concentration up to 1,500 mg l−1 As(III), the mixed culture showed high As(III)-oxidizing activity at pH values of 7–10 and at temperatures of 25–35°C. The mixed culture contained several genera of heterotrophic As(III)-oxidizing and arsenic-tolerant bacteria: Haemophilus, Micrococcus, and Bacillus. Activated alumina was added to the basal salt medium containing 75 mg l−1 As(III) before and after bacterial oxidation. Arsenic removal by activated alumina was greatly enhanced by bacterial oxidation of As(III) to As(V). The isotherms of As(III) and As(V) onto activated alumina verified that bacterial As(III) oxidation is a helpful pretreatment process for the conventional adsorption process for arsenic removal.

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