Arsenic may be found as a water or food contaminant in many parts of the world including Europe. High levels of arsenic are still being detected in groundwater of countries such as Hungary, Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania, Finland, England, Germany and Serbia.
© Fotolia, 2012|
Drinking water with high arsenic levels leads to skin diseases and disorders in blood vessels. It gradually evolves into cancers that can attack the bladder, lungs and kidneys and induce diabetes, high blood pressure and cardio-vascular disease. Partial solutions exist for the filtering out of arsenic but two types of arsenic are found in drinking water. One type of arsenic (As V) is easily removed, but the second (As III) is not and it is 60 times more toxic. It needs a separate pre-treatment stage to transform it to the less toxic As V.
As part of a European Union (EU) funded research project, an innovative consortium in Greece, backed by an EU grant of € 833,842, has developed a new adsorbent media that can easily and cost-effectively remove both strains of arsenic from liquids in a single operation.
Known as AquAsZero, the product can be used in existing water treatment filter cartridges where the arsenic bonds firmly to the AquAsZero granules. When the granules are saturated they can be safely buried in the ground as inert waste.
Behind the development is a consortium led by Loufakis Chemicals SA in association with three SMEs involved in water engineering, the University of Thessalonika and research institutes in Greece and abroad.
Loufakis Chemicals SA expects that this low-cost material will be widely used as the adsorbent media in new water treatment plants, and may replace the conventional materials in existing water treatment systems. It can be applied in water treatment for both industrial and domestic use.
"In many parts of the world the permitted limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the EU - 10 parts per billion - are exceeded at great risk to the population," explained project coordinator Christos Koukiotis of Loufakis Chemicals. "Our innovative AquAsZero granules now provide a cost-effective solution to easily remove all traces, even the highly toxic form of arsenic (As III)."
Loufakis Chemicals is working closely with companies in Spain and Portugal, in Italy, in Hungary and in Romania to promote and test AquAsZero. "The most severe problems with arsenic contamination in the world are found in Bangladesh where more than 95 percent of the water supply for more than 138 million people is potentially contaminated at levels exceeding permitted international limits. A low-cost solution can be the use of AquAsZero filters to treat the drinking water," adds project coordinator Koukiotis.
A production line has already been set up at the AquAsZero factory in Thessalonika with an initial capacity of 1,200 Kgs per day.