Objective: Promote access to safe water for families in rural areas.
Water is a human right to the one not everyone has access. Scarce or poorly distributed, it is a cause of complaints and where there is availability of this resource it usually has quality problems. Unfortunately it represents a lack that is synonymous of rural and urban poverty. In Argentina there are two marked problems in relation to this resource:
- Access: 7 million people do not have access to net water, of which about 500 thousand are homes are dispersed in rural areas.
- Water quality: In our country between 2.5 and 4 million people consume water with concentrations of arsenic, higher than the tolerance limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Various surveys have shown that populations in rural areas of Argentina consume water with arsenic concentration levels that exceed 10 to 50 times the recommended limit. Research published in 2006 by the National Health Ministry identified arsenical areas in at least 16 provinces (435,000 square kilometers). Unfortunately, Argentina is one of the countries with the highest population exposed to arsenic in the water.
Alimentaris Foundation Objective
Together with the Chemical Division of Environmental Remediation – Chemical Management of the National Atomic Energy Commission a Project for identification of materials and filtration devices in “point of use” was developed in order to provide safe water to families in marginalized rural areas affected by high concentrations of arsenic.
Alimentaris together with the Chemical Division of Environmental Remediation – Chemical Management of the National Atomic Energy Commission proposed to develop a Project for identification of materials and /or filtration devices in “point of use” capable to provide safe water for consumption of families in marginalized rural areas affected by high concentrations of arsenic in aquifer waters.
For this purpose, it was decided to select filtering materials based on the efficiency, adaptation to the context and costs thereof. Then, tests were conducted in the laboratory with the filtration materials identified with both synthetic and natural waters of Santiago del Estero and Chaco.
Alimentaris hopes that with this search for high-efficiency nano-materials for use in easy maintenance devices, which will not involve further changes in consumption habits and at a low cost, water can be treated in marginalized rural areas, providing safe water for drinking and cooking in sufficient quantities for a family.
In order to complete the project, several filtering materials capable of removing arsenic from the water were identified with better performance and cost-efficiency, and samples of material were acquired in sufficient quantity to be able to carry out the laboratory studies.
In each case, the test protocol was applied to selected materials and samples to evaluate the ability of the material to remove arsenic and at the same time determine the amount of total water that the material can treat depending on the arsenic concentration. Finally, it was also evaluated whether or not the treatment process altered the water composition and if there was any evidence that the material could release any toxic elements.
Batch trials with iron materials in both synthetic and real waters showed that nano-particulate materials were much faster and more efficient at removing arsenic from water at concentrations above the limit established by the WHO. However, for use in filters and until a supported material is achieved, it is better to use materials of larger sizes. Therefore, the tests in columns were carried out with these materials, resulting in IIT Madras and GHE 102 the best materials. In the case of water with high concentrations of arsenic, the treatment with the materials is not advisable as it does not fall to the 10 µg/L recommended limit for water of human consumption.