Cleaning Up Arsenic

Scientists are now developing strategies to clean up the arsenic, a carcinogen, in the water. Scientists at Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) have developed a low-cost technology for cleaning arsenic from drinking water. The technology holds promise for millions of people not only in India but also in Bangladesh and in other developing countries where thousands of cases of arsenic poisoning are linked to poisoned wells each year.

The scientists discovered that nanoparticles ofiron oxide (rust) could be used to remove arsenic in water by using a magnetic field. Arsenic adheres to rust, according to the scientists. Rust is essentially iron oxide, a combination of iron and oxygen, and tends to be magnetic. The arsenic particles that stick onto the iron oxide can be removed from the water by using a low-powered magnet that attracts the particles. Once the particles are extracted, the water becomes safe to drink.

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