We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Using nanotechnology to make water safe for drinking could transform the lives of many people in developing countries, but research is needed to assess the potential health and environmental risks, say Thembela Hillie and Mbhuti Hlophe in this Nature Nanotechnology article.

Nanotechnology water treatment devices may solve the technical challenges associated with water purification. A variety of membranes and filters already use materials such as carbon nanotubes and nanoporous ceramics to purify water.

Recent tests have also shown that nanoscale membranes could successfully treat brackish groundwater — though calcium and magnesium had to be added after treatment to meet the WHO drinking water standard.

The authors emphasise that technical solutions will be irrelevant unless the technology is adopted and adapted to take account of local conditions, knowledge and capacity. Direct technology transfer will fail, they say.

They also warn that some studies have suggested that the unique properties of nanomaterials may make them toxic. The risks and benefits must be carefully weighed.

Link to full article in Nature Nanotechnology