Border Environmental Education and Water Research | AIChE

Border Environmental Education and Water Research

Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico is a small town of a population just under 5,000 located just south of Columbus, New Mexico. The water supplies of both Palomas and Columbus are drawn from the same aquifer, and therefore have similar arsenic and fluoride contamination levels. Columbus installed a reverse osmosis system that provides clean water to all of the residents. The tap water received by the residents of Palomas is only disinfected with chlorine. The fluoride and arsenic content of the water at the well head in Palomas measures 20-40 mg/l and 0.04-0.1 mg/l, respectively. At these levels, arsenic and fluoride have significant toxicity to the people that drink this water over a long period of time. There are water purifiers available around the city where residents pay the affordable price of 1 peso per gallon (~$0.08/gal) for treatment. However, regularly transporting 5 gallon jugs of water to one’s home is time-consuming and requires the ability to lift over forty pounds. The amount of water needed in a school to satisfy drinking needs of students, staff, and fulfill lunch cooking requirements is prohibitive.

The contaminants of arsenic (40-100 ppb) and fluoride (20-40 ppm) severely affect the health by causing disease and cancer. To better the health of community water filters were designed utilizing activated alumina and activated carbon. To prove that the activated alumina is an effective adsorbent for fluoride and arsenic shaker experiments were executed. Along with activated alumina, the carbon media from Brita and Pur filters were used to compare the

adsorption of activated alumina. The adsorbent materials were then placed with water samples from Palomas and shaken for 6, 8, 10, 12, and 24. The concentrations of fluoride and arsenic were then measured using a fluoride ion probe with the Accumet Excel XL25 and an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS). The adsorption capacities of arsenic and fluoride were calculated to compare adsorbents. From the adsorption capacity it can be seen that activated alumina was a better adsorbent and the used in the final designed of the filter. 


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