The adsorption properties of eggshell membranes (ESM), eggshells (ES) and orange peels (OP) were studied for the removal of arsenic (total As) and selenium (total Se). The effect of chemical treatment of these adsorbents by HNO3 and NaOH was also investigated using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). Analysis of the FT-IR spectra showed that treatment with NaOH and HNO3 had an effect on the functional groups present in the materials and also on the adsorption by extension. Thermal analysis showed that ES were more thermally stable than the others with no water molecules in their matrix, which could have caused a substantial weight loss at around 70 °C. In terms of adsorption capacities, chemical treatment increased the adsorption capacities of ESM and OP achieving up to 170 μg g−1 (As) and 160 μg g−1 (Se), and 120 μg g−1 (As) and 70 μg g−1 (Se), respectively, with not much activity for ES in terms of adsorption. The two adsorbents (NaOH-treated OP and ESM) were then tested in environmental water samples and the results showed that 68.9 % of As and 74.8 % of Se, and 54.1 % of As and 47.3 % of Se were removed from domestic wastewater samples investigated using OP and ESM, respectively. Moreover, better selectivities towards the compounds of interest were achieved.