CLEAN WATER INITIATIVES
The aim of the clean water initiative is to make clean and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities available to everyone. About 30% of the world’s population has no access to safe drinking water. An estimated 700 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhea linked to contaminated water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene. Most of these deaths are preventable.
Every child has a right to safe clean drinking water. Chemists Without Borders is committed to find new and innovative technologies to bring clean water and healthy sanitation facilities to disadvantaged communities to prevent deaths.
Bangladesh Arsenic Project
From its founding in 2005, Chemists Without Borders had a vision; to find a solution to the 40,000 Bangladeshis dying each year from illnesses caused by arsenic poisoning. In 2014, we started our project in Bangladesh and hired five interns to give presentations at high schools explaining the hazards of arsenic in drinking water. Later we found funding to construct ring wells at two high schools whose wells were heavily contaminated with arsenic.
Currently we are building a new drinking water and sanitation system at Terial high school in Chittagong district of Bangladesh. A new well is being constructed to obtain water from the ground which will be treated with a arsenic removal system to purify the water. Twenty drinking water and hand-washing stations are built to provide safe water to the students. The water will be sanitized with a UV disinfection system before it is supplied to the students for drinking and handwashing.
This new arsenic remediation system was designed keeping in mind to solve the arsenic problem in the schools nationwide in Bangladesh.
Well-Water Testing Project
Bangladesh has the one of the highest arsenic levels in ground water in the world. The majority of Bangladeshi citizens use private wells to meet their water needs. Most wells are shallow, less than 300 feet, in depth.
Chemists Without Borders recruits university and high school students to test the wells and educate the residents about arsenic and the possibility of sharing water from safe wells with families who take drinking water from contaminated wells.
Water-sharing is a unique program innovated by the Chemists Without Borders. This project is not just about water. It is about empowering young people to solve a health problem that has persisted for years. This program allows neighbors to share water from certified arsenic-free wells. Chemists Without Borders runs this program with the help from high school and college students. Students are trained in testing the well water using a field test kit. The results are shared with the well owners and the owners are educated about the health risks of high arsenic in the water. Owners of the well with no arsenic or less than 50 ppb arsenic levels are encouraged to enroll in the water sharing program where they can share the arsenic safe well water with their neighbors at a nominal cost.
Community participation is at the core of this program. By involving whole community, the water-sharing program allows to minimize the risk of arsenic exposure to population at the lowest cost. We intend to expand this program throughout Bangladesh and other countries where arsenic in water is a problem. The beauty of this model is that it is simple, yet effective; ambitious, yet realistic; extensive, yet cost effective.
Sanitation and hygiene are critical to prevent premature deaths in children and development of a healthy society. An estimated 1.7 billion people or about 22% of world’s population lack basic sanitation facilities such as access to toilets. Around 2.3 billion people (about 29%) lack access to basic hygienic conditions such as access to a handwashing station with soap and water at home, school or work and disposal of wastewater and garbage. Chemists Without Borders works with the communities to help them improve their sanitation and hygienic conditions.
Wastewater treatment system in Bangladesh
Chemists Without Borders has been working with the Terial School administration to develop a total sanitation system. This includes construction of 36 toilets (20 for girls and 16 for boys), 16 hand washing stations and a wastewater treatment system with a sand filter to remove all contaminants before the effluent is release to the local stream.
Climate initiatives and sustainability
Climate change is not a problem of the future. It is happening today. Climate change is referred as the long- term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. Some climate variations are natural part of the earth’s evolution and solar cycle. However, human activities have contributed significantly to the problem mainly through burning fossil fuel such as coal, gas, and oil and by polluting the rivers and oceans with chemicals.
Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. These greenhouse gases are primarily considered to be responsible for increased global temperature and climate change. The consequences of climate change are intense drought, water scarcity, melting polar ice, rising sea levels, severe storms and hurricanes, and widespread fires.
Chemists Without Borders have various programs to mitigate the effects of climate change through several societal, scientific, and educational programs.
Biochar is a granular carbon substance produced by pyrolysis or thermal decomposition of organic matter in an oxygen starved chamber. The charcoal-like byproduct is highly porous and completely safe for the environment.
In addition to reducing soil emissions of greenhouse gases, biochar serves many purposes in regenerative agriculture from improving soil quality, livestock feed productivity, and water filtration treatments. It offers long-term amendments that include resistance to decomposition, beneficial nutrient bioavailability in soil, soil water retention and reduction of nutrient runoff.
Biochar technology offers a promising solution to mitigating climate change by reducing contamination and securely storing carbon in a cleaner and more efficient form than traditional forms of coal. One ton of biochar is equivalent to three tons of CO2 sequestered. By turning biomass into biochar, carbon remains trapped in its solid form, thus creating a carbon-negative cycle. In practicing sustainable soil management, such as the use of biochar, the energy sectors can reduce emissions and redirect and repurpose agro-waste from landfills.
Public Education Initiatives
Personal hygiene is one of the most powerful and cost-effective way to stopping the spread of diseases and preventing deaths specifically in young children. A basic yet highly effective personal hygiene practice is washing hands with clean water and soap. Unfortunately, an estimated 4 billion people worldwide lack basic hygiene services due to inaccessible handwashing facilities with soap and water. At CWB, we apply a holistic approach for hygiene education programs by providing hygiene and health education through our school-based and community-based programs.
Hygiene education program
Personal hygiene is one of the most powerful and cost-effective way to stopping the spread of diseases and preventing deaths specifically in young children. A basic yet highly effective personal hygiene practice is washing hands with clean water and soap. Unfortunately, an estimated
4 billion people worldwide lack basic hygiene services due to inaccessible handwashing facilities with soap and water.
At CWB, we apply a holistic approach for hygiene education programs by providing hygiene and health education through our school-based and community-based programs.
Pollution prevention program
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pollution prevention (P2) is any practice that reduces, eliminates, or prevents pollution at its source prior to recycling, treatment or disposal. Pollution prevention program incorporates several components which include elimination or reduction of waste at the source, conservation and protection of natural resources, and recycling. Pollution prevention programs save money by using the raw materials and resources more efficiently, improve the environment, protect water resources by eliminating or reducing toxic waste discharge and improve air quality by reducing toxic emissions.
At Chemists Without Borders, we have a strong pollution prevention education program designed for all age groups. Everyone can participate in this program to protect their communities and improve their environment.
Science Education Clearinghouses
Education is a humanitarian concern. On a trial basis, Chemists Without Borders will be launching pages within its website housing two clearinghouses for information regarding:
- The plethora of online and in-person resources available for science education enrichment, including kits and other materials that can be ordered online.
- Upcoming decisions at the national, state, and district levels regarding science education in the public schools, to be continuously updated.
What will be included?
In the initial pilot clearinghouse for enrichment materials, we will focus on Chemistry, and limit the entries to virtual enrichment for students in grades K-8. In the future, we hope to expand the offerings to include a wider range of subject areas, grades, and methods of enrichment, to include in-person events and opportunities. The intent is to make it easier to find the chemistry education opportunities.
Every state has an Open Meetings Act that allows public access to government meetings, at the state level. For some states, those laws also apply at the county/local level. We will choose one of those states to use for the pilot clearinghouse on upcoming meetings related to science education decisions for the public schools. In the future, we hope to expand the offerings to all states, and at the national level, where relevant.
The intent is to make it easier for those wishing to speak at these meetings and promote science education to do so.