In Bangladesh, Vietnam, eastern part of India, Cambodia, Thailand, Argentina and several other countries, drinking water drawn from underground sources has been responsible for widespread arsenic poisoning affecting millions of people. Although the genesis of arsenic contamination is yet to be fully understood, natural geochemical weathering of subsurface soil is the sole contributor of dissolved arsenic in groundwater. To this end, the collaborative work between Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, USA and Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU) in West Bengal, India and Institute of Technology in Cambodia (ITC) has been directed toward providing arsenic-safe water in remote villages in affected areas. During the last fifteen years, two hundred low-cost, easy-to-operate arsenic removal units have been installed at the existing wells to insure a supply of safe drinking water. Currently, about two hundred thousand people (200,000) drink arsenic-safe water in this region.
The two most significant scientific advancements that have emerged from this ongoing project are the development of: the first reusable polymer based arsenic-selective adsorbent; and the inexpensive methodology for safe containment of arsenic-laden sludge in rural environment.
The lecture will emphasize the underlying role of chemical science and chemical engineering principles in providing sustainable solutions to a global water-related crisis.
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