A cheaper way to effectively remove arsenic from water with the help of cigarette ash has been developed by scientists.
Jiaxing Li and colleagues explain that naturally occurring and industry-related arsenic contaminates groundwater at high levels in many countries, including Chile, China, Hungary and Mexico and the odorless, tasteless element can cause skin discoloration, stomach pain, partial paralysis and a range of other serious health problems.
When the researchers prepared cigarette ash with a coating of aluminum oxide and tested the material with contaminated ground water, they found it removed more than 96 percent of the arsenic, reducing its levels to below the standard set by the World Health Organization.
The scientists said that because cigarette ashes are discarded in countries around the world and can be easily collected in places where public smoking is allowed, it could be part of a low-cost solution for a serious public health issue.
The study was published in ACS' journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research.