In Bangladesh, naturally occurring arsenic is poisoning shallow tube wells used for drinking water. This exposes 40-70 million Bangladeshis to dangerous toxins that prove fatal when consumed over a period of time. Recent technologies have been studied in order to reduce the toxins in drinking water, however many methods are expensive and can’t be implemented right away.
A team of UC Berkeley faculty and students are designing a device and process utilizing a material known as bottom ash that can remove arsenic from drinking water. Bottom ash removes arsenic in a quick and inexpensive manner. Annual costs for raw materials needed to produce enough ARUBA (Arsenic Removal Using Bottom Ash) for one person is roughly 8 U.S. cents. According to researchers, total treated water costs would be $7- $15 per person, per year. Just 5 grams of pre-treated bottom ash was sufficient to remove the arsenic from 2 liters of 2400 ppb (parts per billion) arsenic-laden water to a level below 50 ppb (the present United States Environmental Protection Agency limit). In addition bottom ash is a material that is considered a waste product and is safe enough for disposal in municipal landfills per EPA.
Clean water should be available to everyone, not just those living in rich communities or those who can afford water purifiers, which is why I wanted to address this issue. I also decided to focus on removing the toxins from the water rather than removing only water-bourne disease pathogens.
My project is called Jala, which means water in Bengali (the official language of Bangladesh). A photo of my logo is located above.