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Article From News From Bangladesh archives

Adda model can be followed to remove arsenic from tubewell water

Audity Falguni

Adda is a remote village of Comilla located at its Barua Upazila. By 1998, one of the sons of Adda, an Associate Professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Mohammad Delwar (now abroad) found an alarming rate of 179 to 450 PPB of arsenic content in village tubewells, while the contamination begins counted from 50 PPB.

Associate Professor Mohammad Delwar is no longer in the country. But his fellow teachers and students of the BUET-initiated project "Technologies for arsenic removal from drinking water" are working in the village with their cheap and easily accessible technologies for mitigating arsenic. United Nations University (UNU) of Japan is a partner to this project.

The Department of Civil Engineering of BUET launched its research programme for mitigating arsenic with country materials since 1994. From October 1998 onwards the research work was intensified and by July 2000 the team attained success. The research team comprised of Professor of Department of Civil Engineering ABM Badruzzaman, Associate Professor Dr. Ashraf Ali and students Nargis Akhter, Mia Md Husseinuzzaman and Orpheus Islam Mohammad.

The BUET-UNU arsenic mitigation project is now guiding three mitigation treatment plants in three mofussil areas of the country, namely Manikganj, Sonargaon and Adda at Comilla.

With assistance of the project, 16 filters have been installed in 16 families of Adda. A red bucket, one packet of chemicals supplied by BUET-UNU project, heaps of cow dung and sands and two simple plastic taps are required to filter the water free from arsenic.

"Arsenic spreads mainly from drinking water and water for cooking. A five-member family needs 46 litres of water meaning two buckets of water for drinking and cooking. Keeping that estimation in mind we installed five filters initially. Later on, the villagers themselves installed eleven more filters. We only supplied chemicals," said Professor ABM Badruzzaman.

There are, however, over hundred families in Adda. Each of the sixteen families supplies filtered water to three more families. Still the ratio is not equal up to the crisis, admitted Professor ABM Badruzzaman.

Despite high level of contamination in water arsenic has not taken any form of epidemic in Adda till now as the process of contamination is lengthy one.

"In our village only Abdul Jalil died six months ago from arsenicosis. As soon as arsenic was found in our tubewells, Engineer Delwar of our village began warning us. Now we are getting fresh waters since the installation of tubewells," said villager Abdus Sattar to this Correspondent.

If offered fresh water at primary stage of arsenic contamination, the patients can get totally cured, say the specialists.

The BUET-UNU project has not, however, decided to market the chemical solution. It needs more scientific success and proofs, the researchers mentioned.

Another villager Khodeja Begum said that one packet of chemical solutions can sustain till six to seven months.

Researcher of Canada-based International Network for Water and Environment and Health (INWEH) and Professor of Japan-based United Nations University (UNU) Jafar Adeel appreciated the cheap and easily accessible country techniques for removal of arsenic and hoped that people of Bangladesh would soon overcome the catastrophe. ( The Bangladesh Observer )

Copyright 1998 Global Amitech


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