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    Mexican Teens Win Stockholm Water Prize

    By Keith R | August 15, 2007

    Topics: Hazardous Substances, Water Issues | 1 Comment »

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    Crown Princess Victoria awards Stockholm Junior Water PrizeIt’s World Water Week, and this year’s winners of the Stockholm Water Foundation’s annual Junior Water Prize have just been announced: a group of teens from Mexico with an ingenious, low-cost solution for removing lead from water. That’s them in the picture at right receiving the award from Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria. They also received a US$5,000 scholarship.

    The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is presented each year to high-school age students for outstanding water-related projects that focus on topics of environmental, scientific, social or technological importance. The international honor is given to an individual or group who, has been awarded the top prize among national competitions.

    This year teams from 28 countries competed, most from OECD nations, but also from China, Russia, South Africa and Vietnam. Competing from Latin America were teams from Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

    The Mexican teens — Adriana Alcántara Ruiz, Dalia Graciela Díaz Gómez and Carlos Hernández Mejía — are from Cultural Institute of Paideia in Toluca, State of Mexico. Their project is described in prize’s finalist listings as follows:

    In order to prevent environmental contamination and negative impacts on human health, lead removal from water should be legally obligatory and prioritized. Several methods exist to eliminate this pollutant from water; the high cost, however, makes companies reluctant to implement the technology.

    In this work, a bio-organic material – eggshells – was studied in order to determine its capacity of adsorption. Eggshells have the advantage of being an abundant, common and inexpensive bio-residual. The Mexican finalists mixed eggshells with Pb(II) aqueous solution to remove the pollutant from the liquid phase. Morphology and elemental composition of this compound, before and after reaction, were determined using atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X-Ray analysis (EDAX). Atomic adsorption was used for determination of the metal adsorption percent.

    The reaction was carried out in ambient conditions, and the team concluded that it can be reproduced to industrial scale. The results showed that the use of eggshells for the treatment of wastewater that contains heavy metals is a simple, innovative, effective and economically viable method of wastewater treatment.

    The prize’s Nominating Committee picked the Mexican project because it was novel, simple, low-cost, time-effective, scalable and utilizes bio-materials available worldwide.

    By mixing ground-up eggshells in a liquid lead solution, the young Mexicans successfully removed more than 90% of lead pollutants from liquid waste. This low-cost, time-efficient method provides an alternative solution for removing heavy metals, a pollutant and health hazard around the world, from water. The quick and effective process can be applied in both small-scale industries and large industrial operations.

    Congratulations to Adriana, Dalia and Carlos. I suspect that they have a bright future in environmental science.

    — Keith R

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    One Response to “Mexican Teens Win Stockholm Water Prize”

    1. Adriana Says:

      Hopely mexican authorities will support this proyect

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