Discarded cigarette ashes could go to good use – Removing arsenic from water

Arsenic is a well-known poison in the  form  of  semi-metal that  is odorless and tasteless. It enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits in the earth or from agricultural and industrial wastes. This contamination is found in many countries like China, Mexico, Hungry and Chile. Arsenic in drinking water can lead to skin discoloration, problems of the circulatory system, stomach pain, and partial paralysis and can also increase the risk of getting cancer.

Methods of removing arsenic from drinking water

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There are several sophisticated methods of removing arsenic from drinking water. These include coagulation filtration, lime softening, iron exchange, reverse osmosis and few others. These methods are expensive and impractical for rural and developing areas. But there are some places where the equipment is not available arsenic remains on the water and makes people sick.

Scientists have tried the use of natural wastes like banana peels and rice hulls to remove arsenic from water. This is not an efficient method.

Removal of arsenic by cigarette ashes

Recently a Chinese researcher Jiaxing Li has come up with a low cost easier way to remove arsenic from water by using the ashes of cigarettes. He claims this method to be a low cost solution for a serious public health issue. Researchers found that the porous structure of cigarette ash is more suitable to remove arsenic from drinking water.

The Researchers tried a simple, inexpensive one step method by preparing cigarette ash with a coating of aluminium oxide. Their test of this material on contaminated water revealed that more than 95% of the arsenic was removed by this removed. Ashes could easily be collected from smoking areas in public places at a very low cost.

The American Chemical Society (ACL)

It is a non-profit organisation which provides access to chemistry-related research with the help of multiple databases, journals and scientific seminars and conferences. ACL has its main offices in Columbus, Ohio and Washington DC.  The report of this method has recently been published in ACS’ journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-10/acs-dca101514.php