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A Study of Aluminum Coated Wood and Animal Bone Chars for Household Defluoridation

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One of the key global issues faced at this time is a lack of safe drinking water. The health issues resulting from inadequate safe drinking water contribute to other world concerns such as education, maternal health and economic development. The United Nations University and UNESCO estimate that 900 million people currently lack access to potable water and 1.4 billion people are living on less than 1.25 (US) per day. In an effort to mitigate the world water crisis, The United Nation's Millennium Development Goal, ensuring sustainable development, was set to “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” To achieve this goal, sustainable, inexpensive and locally available materials must be developed, assessed and improved. In addition to technology research and testing, successful implementation methods that last over the long term must also be investigated.

The most significant issue contributing to a lack of safe drinking water is pathogens. After pathogens, fluoride is the next largest issue needing to be addressed to increase access to safe water. Fluoride has the potential to cause detrimental health affects to over 200 million people in areas where it exists above the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limit of 1.5 mg/L. Fluoride is naturally occurring in the drinking water sources of many areas of the world, including the Rift Valley of Africa, areas of China and India and parts of the southwestern United States. The health effects of fluoride include dental and skeletal fluorosis. Skeletal fluorosis can cause bones to become deformed or stiff to the point where mobility is limited and/or painful. This is particularly troubling in rural areas where people depend on their physical labor in order to farm or earn a living.

This presentation will discuss research on aluminum coated bone and wood chars for fluoride mitigation. Bone chars have previously been shown to be effective at removing fluoride from drinking water in both household and community scale treatment systems. Additionally, activated alumina is one of the most successful technologies for filtering fluoride from water. However, activated alumina is expensive and not always readily available in developing areas. Therefore, it is helpful to study the fluoride removal potential when bone char, with its high surface area, and aluminum based materials, with their positive surface charge, are combined. This technology could potentially remove fluoride to meet the WHO standard, and be inexpensive, locally available and easy to use. One other consideration is the fact that in many areas people are not amenable, due to religious or cultural beliefs, to using bone char as a water filtration media. Therefore, wood char was investigated in this work as an alternative to bone char.

This presentation will discuss the aluminum coating method, the ability of wood chars alone and with aluminum coating to remove fluoride and a comparison of wood chars with bone chars. Results of surface area analyses and point of zero charge testing along with the chemical composition of various coated and uncoated chars will be presented. In addition, discussion of the aluminum leaching potential will be discussed.

Selecting an effective fluoride removal technology is important to the success of an implementation project. However, in addition to the technology, the implementation must be done in such a way that families and/or communities maintain ownership of the treatment technology and are motivated to maintain and use it. One potentially effective way to accomplish this is through the use of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship organizations have two simultaneous goals: to obtain a profit in order to be economically sustainable and to help meet a societal need. For example, an entrepreneur could develop a business in which they would produce and sell the appropriate fluoride filtration media. This idea of social entrepreneurship in relation to fluoride treatment technologies will be discussed in this presentation.

Keywords: Bone char; aluminum; business model; fluoride; wood char

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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