Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hellish water

Update: Chemists Without Borders have started a similar discussion.

When the first tube-wells were sunk in villages on the Indian sub-continent during the 1960s, purportedly to offer the first reliable, year-round water supply there, the people were incredibly wary, describing the water as the "Water from Hell". In subsequent years, it has emerged that there was indeed some foundation to their suspicions as the insidious effects of arsenic poisoning have taken hold of hundreds of thousands in this area of the world as once insoluble arsenic salts in the bedrock have oxidised to soluble forms that then enter the water supply. You can read more about the arsenic problem on my personal site.

There are numerous problems associated with the arsenic problem many of which have a chemical solution. First, is providing villages with a safe and easy way to test their water supply. At the moment, many tubewells are mislabelled as uncontaminated when they're not, and many have been given the green flag even though they contain solubilised arsenic. Secondly, a simple way to extract the arsenic from contaminated water is needed.

Researchers such as Dipankar Chakraborti of Jadavpur University and his colleagues have been fighting for recognition of this insidious environmental problem that has already affected hundreds of thousands of people. They are working on assays and clean-up, but there is still a need for novel thinking to tackle the hellish water.

David Bradley CChem MRSC [No relation]


At 9:43 AM, Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley said...

Here is a study of the way arsenic enters well waters

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Sondra said...

I am writing my paper on arsenic in well water. I read some of your writing on the blog. I have spent the entire night looking at many different web sights. There is a lot of talk out there about Bangladesh. I think I was very shocked to hear of there trials in that country. The sight that shocked me the most, was a recent article about a school district in this country that found arsenic in their water and the students had been drinking it. I would enjoy if you would help me with my report. I would like to ask you the following questions:

1)Have you studied more then one method to resolve the problem of arsenic in well water?
2)Are there other scientist and engineers from around the world speaking with you in open source to resolve this problem?
3)Have you actually had the chance to go to Bangladesh to see the studies at work?
4)What level do you think is safe in the water we drink?
5)Why do you think that the problem of arsenic in drinking water is becoming a problem in this country?
6)Is it possible that this may have always been a problem, but we recognize it more due to the media?
7)What made you interested in this particular study?
8)Do the other scientist reveal all of their work to you?
9)Do you reveal all of your work on open source?
10)Do you like working with open source?
11)Is it possible with open source that problems may be resolved much quicker due to a wider range of imput?
12)Do you think open source will be the way of the future?
13)Will you continue to use open source science?
14)Is there any thing you would like me to write in my paper that you would like others to know?
A. About arsenic in well water?
B. About open source science?

I hope to hear from you and thank you for your help on my project. I am in the English 107 class and have really enjoyed this semester. It has been a lot of fun for me and I have been exposed to many new ideas.
If you would could you please let me know if I am able to quote you.

Thank you for your time.

Sondra Grove

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Jean-Claude Bradley said...

We really have not done much with arsenic on UsefulChem except to point out that this is a serious problem that needs to be fixed with a chemical solution. I would suggest looking at the Chemists Without Borders link at the top of this post and reading some of the recent posts on arsenic. Some of the people there may be able to answer many of your questions. Concerning our use of open source/open notebook science (which we use mainly for our malaria work), yes we plan on continuing to work that way and hope that more scientists will see the benefits. Also see this interview.


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