Use of chemically treated human hair wastes for the removal of heavy metal ions from water

Helan Zhang, Fernando Carrillo-Navarrete, Montserrat López-Mesas, Cristina Palet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Human hair is considered a ubiquitous waste product and its accumulation can cause environmental problems. Hence, the search for alternatives that take advantage of this waste as a new raw material is of interest, and contributes to the idea of the circular economy. In this study, chemically modified human hair was used as a low cost biosorbent for the removal of heavy metal ions from aqueous solutions. The effect of the contact time, the pH, and the biosorbent concentration on the biosorption process were investigated. Kinetic modeling indicated that the pseudo-second order kinetic equation fitted well with R2 > 0.999. Furthermore, the equilibrium data fitted the Langmuir adsorption isotherm at 295 K resulting in saturation concentrations of 9.47 × 10-5, 5.57 × 10-5, 3.77 × 10-5, and 3.61 × 10-5 mol/g for the sorption of Cr(III), Cu(II), Cd(II), and Pb(II), respectively. The biosorption process did not change the chemical structure and morphology of the hair, which was shown by FTIR and SEM. In addition, desorption experiments prove that 0.1 mol/L EDTA solution is an efficient eluent for the recovery of Pb(II) from the treated human hair. To summarize, treated human hair showed satisfactory biosorption capacity and can be considered as an effective biosorbent for the treatment of water with a low concentration of heavy metal ions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1263
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Biosorption
  • Heavy metal
  • Human hair
  • Isotherms
  • Kinetics


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