This study evaluated the performance of soil and coal cinder used as substrate in vertical-flow constructed wetlands for removal of fluoride and arsenic. Two duplicate pilot-scale artificial wetlands were set up, planted respectively with cannas, calamus and no plant as blank, fed with a synthetic sewage solution. Laboratory (batch) incubation experiments were also carried out separately to ascertain the fluoride and arsenic adsorption capacity of the two materials (i.e. soil and coal cinder). The results showed that both soil and coal cinder had quite high fluoride and arsenic adsorption capacity. The wetlands were operated for two months. The concentrations of fluoride and arsenic in the effluent of the blank wetlands were obviously higher than in the other wetlands planted with cannas and calamus. Fluoride and arsenic accumulation in the wetlands body at the end of the operation period was in range of 14.07–37.24% and 32.43–90.04%, respectively, as compared with the unused media.

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