A critical review on selenium removal capacity from water using emerging non-conventional biosorbents

Habib ULLAH, Baoliang CHEN, Audil RASHID, Ruohan ZHAO, Asfandyar SHAHAB, Guo YU, Ming Hung WONG, Sangar KHAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Anthropogenic-driven selenium (Se) contamination of natural waters has emerged as severe health and environmental concern. Lowering Se levels to safe limits of 40 μg-L⁻¹ (recommended by WHO) presents a critical challenge for the scientific community, necessitating reliable and effective methods for Se removal. The primary obectives of this review are to evaluate the efficiency of different biosorbents in removing Se, understand the mechanism of adsorption, and identify the factors influencing the biosorption process. A comprehensive literature review is conducted to analyze various studies that have explored the use of modified biochars, iron oxides, and other non-conventional biosorbents for selenium removal. The assessed biosorbents include biomass, microalgae-based, alginate compounds, peats, chitosan, and biochar/modified biochar-based adsorbents. Quantitative data from the selected studies analyzed Se adsorption capacities of biosorbents, were collected considering pH, temperature, and environmental conditions, while highlighting advantages and limitations. The role of iron impregnation in enhancing the biosorption efficiency is investigated, and the mechanisms of Se adsorption on these biosorbents at different pH levels are discussed. A critical literature assessment reveals a robust understanding of the current state of Se biosorption and the effectiveness of non-conventional biosorbents for Se removal, providing crucial information for further research and practical applications in water treatment processes. By understanding the strengths and limitations of various biosorbents, this review is expected to scale-up targeted research on Se removal, promoting the development of innovative and cost-effective adsorbents, efficient and sustainable approaches for Se removal from water. Copyright © 2023 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122644
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online dateOct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


Ullah, H., Chen, B., Rashid, A., Zhao, R., Shahab, A., Yu, G., Wong, M. H., & Khan, S. (2023). A critical review on selenium removal capacity from water using emerging non-conventional biosorbents. Environmental Pollution, 339, Article 122644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2023.122644


  • Non-conventional adsorbents
  • Selenium
  • Biochar
  • Water pollution


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