What's the Latest Development?

Families in rural Indian communities are currently helping to test a device that could provide them with an affordable and reliable source of safe drinking water. Developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the filtration system combines several different types of nanoparticles into a composite that removes most toxic chemicals found in wells and other local water sources. The process takes about an hour to filter 10 liters of water in the current prototype, and the device itself costs less than US$3 per year. Details appeared in a paper published this week in Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences.

What's the Big Idea?

According to experts, 11 percent of the world's population lacks access to improved sources of drinking water. For the people currently using the filtration device, paper co-author Thalappil Pradeep says his team "had to look at several problems...One is microbes. Another is bacteria and viruses, and then chemicals, like arsenic, lead and pesticides." The current prototype works for the regions of India that are being tested, but Pradeep says they are working with people in other areas of the world to help identify their specific water issues.

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