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OU graduate student developing solutions for water problems in Ethiopia
Date:5/16/2011

A University of Oklahoma environmental science graduate student will travel to Ethiopia in June to test materials she has been investigating as possible solutions to fluorosisa widespread problem in the Rift Valley, where high levels of fluoride in the drinking water result in dental and skeletal disease.

Laura Brunson, graduate student in the OU College of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, works with researchers in the OU Water Center on global water challenges, specifically fluorosis. Left untreated, fluorosis causes darkening of the teeth and bone deformities. In Ethiopia, the side effects of fluorosis are clearly health related, but have a cultural aspect as well. Novel approaches to this problem are needed to produce effective solutionssolutions not readily available in rural, impoverished areas of countries like Ethiopia.

Brunson has been investigating inexpensive, sustainable and locally available solutions, such as adsorptiona useful technology for fluoride removal from drinking water because it does not require energy input outside of gravity and, depending on the material used, can be very effective at removing fluoride to meet the World Health Organization standard. She has been investigating fluoride removal using several novel materials including aluminum coated wood and bone chars.

Bones charred at a high temperature are effective in the removal of fluoride from water, but Brunson is investigating other materials with similar properties of bone char because some communities do not like the idea of treating water with bones. Wood char is one possibility, but it has to have a coating for it to work as well as bone char. Brunson will test these materials in Ethiopia this summer. "It's important to test the materials in the location where they will actually be used," she says.

When Brunson can determine the effectiveness of the materials, the next step is building awareness in the region. A susta
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Contact: Jana Smith
jana.smith@ou.edu
405-325-1322
University of Oklahoma
Source:Eurekalert

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