The ability to remove fluoride with a relatively inexpensive filter membrane can protect millions of people from fluorosis. The technology does not require expensive installations: scientists do not filter water under high pressure and do not remove all components, followed by remineralization of drinking water.
“The potential of ion-selective membranes for reducing excess fluoride in drinking water is very high,” notes Aise Asatekin, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and co-author of the study. “But the potential usefulness of the technology goes beyond drinking water and allows us to solve other problems. The method we used to manufacture the membranes is easy to scale up for industrial applications.”
A group of scientists from the Tufts University School of Engineering (USA) has developed a new technology for water filtration. It can help fight the water-borne disease that affects tens of millions of people around the world. Another useful application of the technology is environmental restoration, the development of safe mining, and other processes.
As reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have shown that the new polymer membranes can separate fluoride from chloride and other ions twice as efficiently as previous methods. The technology could remove toxic fluoride from water, where the element is found in concentrations too high for human consumption, they said.
The scientists noted that in some groundwater sources, natural levels of fluoride are so high that they can lead to serious health problems. Long-term exposure to excess fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition in which teeth weaken, tendons, ligaments and bones are affected. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that excessive concentrations of fluoride in drinking water have caused tens of millions of cases of dental and bone fluorosis worldwide.