Adsorption studies have been conducted at pH 4, 6 and 8 to assess the effect of fulvic acid on arsenate adsorption to ferrihydrite and gibbsite. The studies compared the adsorption of arsenate on the mineral surfaces in the absence of fulvic acid, to those cases where increasing concentrations of fulvic acid (0.3-60 muM) were added to the mineral-arsenate suspensions. Experiments where arsenate was added to mineral-fulvate suspensions were also conducted. The results suggest that arsenate adsorption on both gibbsite and ferrihydrite decreases with increasing concentrations of fulvic acid. This effect was highest at pH 4, and decreased at pH 6 and 8. Ferrous ion concentrations were very low during the ferrihydrite experiments and support the view that fulvic acid can both displace arsenate from and inhibited its adsorption to mineral surfaces. The experiments also indicated that the amount of arsenate adsorbed was lower if fulvic acid was added before rather than after arsenate.. This may reflect the relative size of arsenate and fulvic acid molecules and their ability to penetrate the crystal matrices of the minerals. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.