The Natural Solution to Fluoridated Water
Jason (Ze Xin) Chen
St George's School
Floor Location : M 089 H
Water pollution has for so long plagued our world as a seemingly unsolvable problem. The UN reported that 6-8 million people die annually from consequences of disasters and water-related diseases. Currently, the fluoridation of water is the most detrimental pollutant that affects the quality of drinking water. In many ways, the fluoride ion can be seen as a double-edged sword. On one hand, low concentration of fluoride in daily drinking water prevents tooth decay by developing resistance to bacteria; on the other hand, exposure to and consumption of high concentrations of fluoride result in severe diseases such as crippling skeletal fluorosis and dental fluorosis. In order to address this issue, the WHO set a guideline limiting fluoride concentrations in drinking water to 1.5 ppm; regardless, the fluoride concentration in the groundwater of developing countries can be as high as 20 ppm. This problem is exacerbated with the inaccessibility of current commercial devices that remove fluoride in water. Methods such as the activated alumina filters and reverse osmosis filtration are neither affordable nor convenient for personal use. Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop cheap and feasible methods to remove fluoride in drinking water. This study will focus on testing the effectiveness of different natural absorbents alongside the currently used methods to determine whether organic materials are possible solutions to the urgent matter. I will also test the effects of different masses of the natural absorbents in reducing fluoride concentrations in water. In this study, natural absorbents such as crab shell, shrimp shell, egg shell, and seaweed are tested. All of these natural materials are all known to exhibit chemical absorbent properties, which creates an affinity to fluoride. While completely affordable, they are also accessible to the public and entirely organic. In my study, raw, market-bought ingredients of each natural adsorbent was dried and crushed into powdered form. Different concentrations of the absorbent powder were then added to solutions with different parts-per-million of fluoride. After being stirred for a certain period, a centrifuge was used to separate the fluoride solution and natural powders. The fluoride concentration was then tested and compared to the original concentration to determine the effectiveness of each adsorbent in reduction of fluoride. In my study, shrimp shell and crab shell powder were found to be the most effective fluoride adsorbents. One gram of shrimp shell and one gram of crab shell were able to reduce a concentration of 100 ppm to 1.1 ppm and 1.2 ppm fluoride, respectively. These effective absorbent powders were then inserted into a disposable tea bag, as a convenient, natural water purifier. In this experiment’s best, the use of natural absorbents can dramatically change the outlook of today’s drinkable water.