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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bangladesh Initiative

The way I see it our arsenic project has unravelled into several strands.

First, we still have the original idea of using water hyacinth to remove arsenic from water. There are several difficulties there. How much dried water hyacinth will absorb how much arsenic? Scientifically what are the isotherms that describe the sorptive behavior? What procedure can be worked out that would be effective in a non-lab setting? What is the best way to remove the arsenic-rich hyacinth? How does one dispose of the contaminated plant material? Culturally, would you drink water that have been mixed with powdered plants? As Elmo says, its not much different than drinking tea, is it? Maybe, maybe not.

Next, arsenic is not the only significant environmental problem in Bangladesh. Three others have been suggested: surface water pollution from tanneries, from textile dyers, and indoor air pollution from burning a variety of materials to provide cooking fires. Perhaps with much of the global community focused on the arsenic, we should tackle something else.

Third, what would it take to assist the Bangladeshi chemical community to build an environmental chemistry research and development centre? Rather than jumping in and jumping back out, how can we set up infrastructure that will train new Bangladeshi scientists, provide research space to current scientists with up to date technologies to study and make recommendations for improving the conditions in Bangladesh?

Fourth, can we set up a model semester abroad for science students in Bangladesh? Can we collaborate to the extent that US (and other) undergraduate students (graduate students also?) could go to Bangladesh and not miss out on their requirements for graduation. Students might study Bangladeshi language and culture, take a science class, and assist a graduate student or professor with a research project.

Ideas? Reactions?

Mindmap added by Bego, 12/14/2008 (click to enlarge image):

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