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Natural way to control arsenic

health-and-fitness Updated: May 10, 2010 02:09 IST
Anuraag Singh
Anuraag Singh
Hindustan Times
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Finally a completely natural solution for people living in region with widespread Arsenic contamination of ground water!

A team of researchers led by Dr Asha Lata Singh, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science at Department of Botany, BHU has successfully found out a natural (microbe) based cleaning solution to free ground water from slow poisoning Arsenic up to a level of 0.8 ppm (parts per million).

And the natural cleaning agent is Lactobacillus acidophilus, a human system friendly bacteria, which as per research by Dr Singh's team has the capacity to remove Arsenic from arsenic contaminated water up to 0.8 ppm level within three hours only.

As per the research whose findings have been published in a reputed International Journal of Bio-remediation recently, advantage of using the human system friendly bacteria to remove arsenic from water is that the bacteria is able to survive in toxic concentration of arsenic even after surface absorption.

The technique is not only eco friendly, but also cost effective and easily available.

Talking to HT on Friday, Dr Singh, who has been working on arsenic contamination of ground water in Ballia district of East UP for last three years at Department of Botany, BHU said " our research has shown that with the help of the Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria arsenic can be removed from ground water up to a contamination level of 0.8 ppm (permissible limit being 0.1 ppm).

"Till now in the ground water samples collected from Bairia, Sikandarpur and Maniar areas of Ballia (arsenic contamination endemic zones) the arsenic level in water has been found up to 0.5 ppm and with this microbe based natural cleaning technology, arsenic can easily be removed from water," Singh maintained.

Singh, who prior to joining BHU was working on arsenic contamination of water in Ballia and other arsenic endemic regions during her stint with Bio-engineering & environmental centre at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (Hyderabad) is now working on other dimensions of her study under a UGC-supported project on Detoxification of Arsenic contaminated water by eco-friendly microbe.

"Until now most of the works carried out to remove arsenic from ground water was through physiochemical processes, but they produced wet bulky sludge and required final filtration for secondary treatment," Singh informed.

So far very little work has been carried out on removal of arsenic by biological process and whatever work has been carried out using Fungi it doesn't fully remove arsenic from water and the organisms are also not human system friendly.

Presence of Arsenic in ground water above permissible limit (0.1 ppm) causes variety of health hazards, spanning from skin problems to blood cancer and renal failure, cancer and neuropathy.