Many areas worldwide struggle with high levels of arsenic in the water supply. Scientists from Argentina - where several regions are affected - are collaborating with European colleagues to find solutions in the context of an EU-funded project. Together, they intend to develop a low-cost system to produce safe drinking water for people and livestock.
© O.Farion - fotoloia.com
The Nanoremovas project set out to address a crucial challenge for a crucial sector of the Argentinian economy: removing arsenic from the water consumed by cattle farms, to stop it entering the food chain. The consortium, which includes both academic institutions and private sector partners, is planning to use state-of-the-art multifunctional nanostructured materials to do the job.
Arsenic in the groundwater is not necessarily a sign of environmental pollution. The problem arises naturally in many parts of the world simply as a result of geological contamination, and water quality guidelines do allow for vanishingly small amounts of this substance.
However, beyond the tight limits that have been set, arsenic in the water is an obvious threat to public health. In addition to the quantities populations might ingest from drinking water, they are also at risk from any contamination that might have accumulated in food produced using the same supply.
Nanoremovas, launched in January 2015, is aiming to develop an affordable and sustainable system that will empower cattle farmers in the face of this challenge. As a second step, the partners are planning to set up a pilot plant based on this new technology.
Beyond their initial applications in Argentina, the project’s advances could also be of interest to many other communities. Backed by funding from the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme for Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), Nanoremovas may thus be helping to solve a problem that is plaguing populations around the world.