The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Pakistan - U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants Funded Projects Special Events

Pakistan-US Science and Technology Cooperation Program                                                            
Phase 4 (2009 Deadline)

Removal of Arsenic from Drinking Water Using Iron Ores as
Low-Cost Reactive Absorbent Media

James Farrell, University of Arizona
Khadjia Qureshi, Mehran University of Engineering and Technology
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $267,152
US Funding (Department of State): $130,916
Project Dates: November 15, 2010 - November 14, 2013 (Extended through Feb 28, 2014)

Project Overview

The presence of arsenic in groundwater causes severe health problems, and shallow subsurface aquifers and tube wells in Pakistan are often found to have arsenic levels above recommended limits set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. With the rapid population growth in Pakistan, available water resources are being exhausted, so there is a great need to find economical ways of treating groundwater to make it safe for use. The goal of this project is to determine the effectiveness of several low-cost iron ores as reactive adsorbent media for removing arsenic compounds from drinking water. Both lab-based and field-scale pilot testing will be performed to assess the long-term performance of the media under challenging operating conditions. In addition to identifying a more cost-effective method for arsenic removal, this research will also provide training for young Pakistani scientists that will enable them to address a variety of other problems associated with metal-contaminated drinking water, which is a crucial problem for Pakistan. While opening avenues for future collaborative research, academic improvement, and technology transfer, the project should ultimately benefit residents of Pakistan and other countries suffering from arsenic-related health hazards.

Quarterly Update

After a delay of nine months in processing Dr. Bhatti’s visa, Professors Khadija Qureshi and Inam Bhatti arrived in Tucson, Arizona on May 21, 2013 and began their six month period of laboratory research. They are working directly with a University of Arizona doctoral candidate Binod Chaudhary who has been working on the project since May 2013. Mr. Chaudhary has been instructing Professors Qureshi and Bhatti in the techniques that he developed to make ion exchange fibers for removing arsenic from potable water. This past year, he has found a simpler and more economical method of making the arsenic adsorbing fibers. In Pakistan, one PhD student and two MS students have been working on the project. Dr. Qureshi has developed a new method for making an adsorbent for removing arsenic from drinking water that can also be used as an anion or cation exchanger for removing other contaminants from water. Dr. Bhatti has developed a method for grafting polyacrylic acid onto polyacrylonitrile fabric. This special fabric has a high cation exchange capacity and can be used to remove hardness ions from water. Also by adsorbing iron oxide on the fabric, the adsorbent can remove arsenic from water. Key pieces of equipment delivered in the previous year were set-up and tested in the newly refurbished laboratory established with funds provided by the government of Pakistan. Training sessions to instruct students and professors in the use of the equipment were held throughout the year.

Progress Reports

Show all progress summaries | Hide progress summaries

2011 Show summary || Hide summary 

2012 Show summary || Hide summary 

2013 Show summary || Hide summary