Public Health - Environmental Health Science
Can low pressure membranes safely and sustainably treat surface water to reduce arsenic and pathogen exposure in rural Bangladesh?
Groundwater pumped from approximately half of the roughly 10 million tubewells in Bangladesh do not meet the World Health Organization (WHO) guideline for As of 10 µg/L. Exposure to elevated levels of inorganic As is associated with increased risk for cancers of the skin, bladder, and lung, skin lesions, deficits in cognitive and motor function in children, cardiovascular disease, and reduced respiratory function. Therefore, alternative intervention is warranted to protect the lives of millions of people. The advance in surface water treatment has shed a light on the use of surface water as an alternative drinking water source in areas where arsenic contamination of groundwater sources is high. This proposed research will establish six membrane filtration systems in six rural villages in Singair Upazila, Bangladesh, each having the capability to serve up to 2,700 people. Local operators will be trained to operate and maintain the systems. Follow-up surveys will be conducted to determine the usage of treated surface water by villagers, as well as public health outcomes. Results of this research are expected to provide crucial baseline understandings to the applicability of treated surface water as a sustainable, cost-effective intervention to arsenic exposure in rural Bangladesh and surrounding countries. Completion of this research will enable Dr. Haiou Huang (PI) to pilot the use of his developed membrane filter system to determine its effectiveness in pathogen removal and user acceptability in a field setting. These findings will allow him to pursue external funding to scale up their collaborative research efforts.