Mitigation of arsenic mass poisoning: a unified experimental and theoretical approach | University of Oxford

Mitigation of arsenic mass poisoning: a unified experimental and theoretical approach

Dr Ian Griffiths, Dr Raka Mondal (Mathematical Institute)

Professor Sirshendu De, Dr Sourav Mondal (Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur)

Dr Ian Griffiths (Mathematical Institute)Dr Ian Griffiths (Mathematical Institute)
The Ganges–Brahmaputra Delta is a global hotspot for arsenic groundwater contamination. Naturally occurring arsenic concentrates in water drawn from deep wells, creating a major public health issue in West Bengal and Bangladesh, which has been described as the largest mass poisoning of a population in history.

A novel technology has recently been discovered by Griffiths’s collaborator, Professor Sirshendu De (IIT Kharagpur), which uses naturally abundant laterite soil to filter arsenic. The technology has the potential to provide a global breakthrough, supplying clean water to the world. However, to achieve this, a sound quantitative understanding of its performance is essential, which can only be obtained through the development of mathematical models.

Griffiths has developed a mathematical framework using homogenization theory and asymptotic analysis that distils the complex process into a simple predictive tool, which predicts the two key features: how frequently filters must be replaced, and how the filters may be upscaled to serve, for example, a school or community.

The filters serve more than 5000 people, and 40 community-scale filters are now being deployed. The mathematical tools provide the essential guidance needed for engineers to maintain current filters and deploy these new filters in a cost-effective manner.