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Rusty nanoparticles and arsenic poisoning

A subject that I have returned to on several occasions is arsenic-contaminated drinking water. This insidious environmental disaster was first brought to light by Dipankar Chakraborti of the University of Jadavpur whom I interviewed for The Guardian in 1995. However, the problem has not gone away. Various research teams have looked at various solutions to the problem but Chakraborti emphasises that the issue is one of politics more than anything else.

Nevertheless, there are emerging, simple technologies that with the political will to implement them, may one make the arsenic contamination that is affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people across the Indian sub-continent a thing of the past.

The latest unexpected discovery that rusty nanoparticles are more magnetic than predicted may help.

Researchers at Rice University’s Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) have developed a low-cost technology that can extract arsenic from drinking water. The discovery could save millions of people from untold suffering across India, Bangladesh, and other developing countries where thousands of wells are poisoned by arsenic salts.

Find out more in Issue 60 of Reactive Reports.

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