New technique could protect water from arsenic poisoning

September 17th, 2008 - 1:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 17 (IANS) An ultra sensitive technique for detecting toxic heavy metals in water has opened the way for safer use of groundwater and recycling water.The breakthrough is significant given how arsenic poisoning in India and Bangladesh through polluted water supply potentially affects tens of millions of people.

The technology for detecting toxic metals like lead and cadmium in water was developed by Erica Ji and Zuliang Chen of the Collaborative Research Centre for Contamination Assesment and Remediation of Environment (CRC-CARE) and University of South Australia.

This technology, for which CRC-CARE has filed a provisional patent application, equips a special electrode with a novel chemical film that selectively seeks out lead or/and cadmium ions, reports

“The electrode provides lower detection limits and higher selectivity for lead and cadmium ions. It means that we now have a much more efficient way of detecting and tracking contamination,” Zuliang said.

According to co-researcher Erica, one of the advantages of a chemical-based system like this is that it is very quick. “You get a result in a few minutes, whereas taking samples back to a lab for analysis can take days.”

CRC-CARE managing director Ravi Naidu said: “Many water resources are polluted by naturally-occurring heavy metals or from mining, but our city effluent is also contaminated by discharge from factories and industrial activities which can make it unsuitable for recycling.”

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