Guwahati: Scientists at a central Indian university have developed a cost –effective Arsenic Filtration mechanism that would completely bring down the health burden caused by arsenic and iron contaminated ground water.
Arsiron Nilogon, developed a team of scientists led by Dr Robin Kumar Dutta of Tezpur University in Assam, filters out 99.9 per cent of the arsenic contamination from the ground water to make it suitable for drinking.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment—in air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
Long term exposure to inorganic arsenic, mainly by drinking contaminated water, eating food grown or even prepared with this water, can cause skin lesions and cancer.
Various Indian states, including, Assam, West Bengal, UP and Bihar, are highly affected by the groundwater arsenic contamination.
Dutta, a faculty in the Department of Chemical Science of Tezpur University, said the filtration system is highly cost-effective and simple to operate.
“In Arsiron Nilogon, we simply create a condition in a bucket or drum of water which exists in the aquifer giving us arsenic-free water to remove arsenic by successive additions of three common chemicals,” Dutta said.
He said the chemicals used in the filtration process are cooking soda for pH conditioning, potassium permanganate for supplying oxygen and ferric chloride for providing solid iron oxide adsorbents of arsenic.
The method can remove arsenic even to below 2 ppb (parts per billion) level while the WHO has set 10 ppb as the standard level.
Dutta also said the filtration process removes other toxic metal ions like manganese, lead, nickel, chromium, copper, etc, very well along with arsenic and iron.
“A household filter can be made using two plastic buckets and some other easily available materials at a cost of about 350 rupees while the recurring cost is about one paisa per litre,” Dutta said, who felt motivated to develop the filtration system after he lost some of his dear ones due to the problem.
Aiming to make people adopt the new technology, the team behind the technology is also training volunteers on how to install and maintain a filter using the technique.