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ENT REPRENE URI AL S TUDENT S No more poisoned drinking water Three environmental technology students have developed and installed water purification filters for local households in a village in India. The students were subsequently honoured with an Italian award in Florence, Italy. Arsenic pollution of the groundwater poses a significant health hazard to a great many people in different parts of the world. In spring 2011, three undergraduates studying in the environmental engineering programme spent two and a half months in India, working to develop and then install household filters for four local families as a part of their BSc project. “It was fun and exciting to have the chance to work on a project with such a clear practical application where we were involved in the entire process from the conceptualization phase, through the prototype phase and then on to practical application in the households,” relates Lærke With Well-intentioned help caused problems In years gone by, many people in countries such as Bangladesh and India collected their drinking water from surface water, which resulted in widespread infection with diseases such as cholera. As part of their development assistance programmes, Western organizations showed locals how to drill millions of small boreholes (tube wells) so that people could drink groundwater instead. However, years later it was discovered that the groundwater in several countries contained high levels of arsenic, leading to chronic poisoning among the local populations. PHO TO CECILIE RAMSHOV -ANDERSEN A mother uses the household filter in her home. A simple and inexpensive design that protects the local population from arsenic poisoning. Nedergaard, one of the students who worked on the project. Lærke and her fellow students Cecilie Ramskov-Andersen and Alexander Holm Koch subsequently submitted their bachelor project for consideration for the Italian Tattarillo Award. In June 2012, they took first prize for the best project ahead of 40 other projects by teams from all over the world. The award is presented to sustainable solutions with the capacity to help people in developing countries. Easy to maintain The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a limit of no more than 10 micrograms of arsenic per litre of water. The population of the Indian state of West Bengal has problems with excessive levels of arsenic in the water pumped up from local wells, which are dug by hand. The students’ solution largely resembles an old-fashioned juice steamer. The water is poured into a clay pot, and then runs through two containers filled with sand and activated alumina, respectively. Cecilie Ramskov-Andersen explains: “The sand filters remove most of the naturally occurring iron in the water, and the activated alumina subsequently removes the arsenic. We measured the purified water and found that it contained less arsenic than the limits stated by both WHO and the Indian government.” The filter was designed in consultation with the local non-governmental organizations. Not only was the filter to be as inexpensive as possible, but it also had to be easy to maintain because this had been a problem with earlier filter models. KATRINE KROGH - JEPPE SEN PHO TO PRIVA TE 26 Alexander Holm Koch, Lærke With Nedergaard and Cecilie Ramskov- Andersen receiving the Tattarillo Award in Florence, Italy. Technical University of Denmark


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