This paper describes the potential application of a freely suspended cyanobacterial biomass of Microcystis aeruginosa as a sorption material for toxic metals, cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) from aqueous solutions. In order to identify the most suitable conditions for removal of these elements (concentration range: 1–20 mg L−1), the laboratory experiments were carried out during different incubation times (1–48 h) and under various temperatures (10–40°C), pH (5–9) and with or without light irradiance. Competitive biosorption of Cd and Pb was also investigated. We found that M. aeruginosa demonstrates high efficiency in removing both of the studied metals from aqueous solutions. Sorption of Pb occurred, however, more rapidly and effectively, and was less disturbed by changes in physico-chemical conditions. Under pH=7, 25°C and light, the removal rates after 3 h and 6 h of incubation, were 90–100% for Pb and 79.5–100% for Cd, respectively. The co-occurrence of the metals decreased the rate of metal biosorption. Pb was sequestered preferentially over Cd. From the results we conclude that freely suspended M. aeruginosa can constitute a promising low-cost, easy-producible biosorbent material for toxic metals in contaminated wastewater.
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