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Arsenic contamination of drinking water is a problem for tens of millions of people worldwide, mostly in the developing world.

In this article, Mark Clayton reviews the potential of the latest solutions in development. Finding a way to separate the arsenic from groundwater has proved difficult — the filter must be cheap and easy to make and maintain and local people must want to use it and it must possible to use it in different countries.

The most promising device yet, Clayton reports, is one developed in 2000 by Ashok Gadgil, a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, United States. Using coal ash coated with ferric hydroxide — a chemical to which arsenic binds — Gadgil's filter reduces arsenic concentrations from 2,400 parts per billion of arsenic to just ten parts per billion.

Gadgil has received US$250,000 to use the technology to remove arsenic from water in California, and hopes also to test it in Bangladesh or India.

Scientists have recently been given an extra incentive in the form of a US$1 million prize offered to researchers who invent a cheap and sustainable method of filtering arsenic-contaminated water (see US$1 million reward for solution to arsenic problem).

Link to full article in The Christian Science Monitor

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