Article from SciDev Net:
"Many new technologies have promised to remove arsenic from drinking water but little has changed on the ground, finds T. V. Padma.
[MATLAB] Razia Begum has been asking the same question for two years now: "Please will someone fix my arsenic filter?"
She lives in Nagda, a village in one of the areas of Bangladesh most severely contaminated by arsenic in drinking water — although at first glance there is nothing about the village's lush paddy fields to suggest anything dangerous.
Razia's family, like many thousands of others in such areas, was given an 'alcan' filter — a simple unit containing a material called activated alumina that absorbs arsenic from water — under a UN project in 2006. Two years later, the filter stopped working as it became clogged up and needed specialist attention that was no longer available.
Ever since, Razia has been searching in vain for a well with a green tube, an indicator of arsenic-free water. She finally settled for pond water, which is contaminated with village waste and used for bathing, and which is a source of diarrhoeal infections. (Photo shows symptoms of arsenic poisoning.)
Straightforward solutions to the arsenic problem that affects hundreds of millions of people have, so far, been hard to come by.
"I am not aware of any research that has led to a widespread application for providing arsenic-safe water to people in the affected areas," says Mohammad Yunus, senior scientist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, which is based in Dhaka and works in Nagda and neighbouring villages.
This is despite the fact that scientists have made great progress in understanding how, where and why arsenic ends up in soil and water, and have designed promising tests and filters. But for such inventions to survive, they must overcome basic, yet hard-to-resolve issues that lie far beyond the laboratories."