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STAR filter provides arsenic free water to villagers

Residents of Golbahar village in Chandpur take to new technology

Experts yesterday inspected the Stevens Technology for Arsenic Remove (STAR) filter project, a simple, cheap and user friendly method to remove arsenic from the tube well water at the Golbahar village under Kachua in Chandpur.

The method reduces arsenic level from 100 parts per billion (ppb) to less than 5 ppb, which is bellow the WHO limit of 50 ppb.

The technique has been approved by the Technical Advisory Group under National Steering Committee on Arsenic.

A total of 184 families have so far adopted this easy and affordable technique to fight rid of the epidemic problem of the country.

Earth Identity Project (EIP), a Non Government Organisation (NGO) introduced the technology in the village with technical assistance from Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) of New Jersey, USA.

Scientists of the SIT evolved the technique through laboratory experiments and field tests in the village for over a year.

EIP has also began a training programme on arsenic awareness and to explain the easy handling of the filter to the villagers.

About 30 women take part in the two-hour training programme each day, which is being held at Ashek Ali Khan High School and College in the village.

During this process two milligrams of iron powder with other chemicals are mixed with about 20 litres of arsenic contaminated water in a bucket. The iron powder dissolves and absorbs the arsenic molecules with in two minutes.

The water is then filtered through a highly absorptive common sand filling one third of another bucket with a hole at the bottom. The arsenic-free water passes to the container through a tube, connected with the hole.

The arsenic containing particles remain in the bucket as those cannot pass through the sand.

The whole process about 20 minutes.

The initial cost of the filter is around Tk. 2000, which includes the cost of buckets, buckets, tube and the iron mixture. The yearly cost of for filtering arsenic contaminated water is only Tk. 140 for a family of five.

Talking to The Daily Star, an official of EIP said, "we are still providing the filter at free of cost and the iron mixture is being supplied by SIT." She also said that the mixture would be produced locally in future and the villagers will then have to purchase the filter.

The NGO monitors the total filtering process of water and teaches the users how to wash the sand, which needs to be changed after six months.

The families using the filter also expressed their satisfaction over the water and said, "we use it for drinking and cooking as well."

Khaleda Akhter, one of villagers, said that they get more than 40 litres of arsenic-free water a day which is sufficient for her family of eight. Earlier, they used to collect water from arsenic-free tube wells from far away of their home which they had to carry home.( Daily Star )

Copyright 1998 Global Amitech


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