Multi-institute lab at IISc can check toxin in water more accurately | India News

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BENGALURU: A multi-instrument water analysis facility established at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) as part of a multi-institute project can determine concentrations of toxic metals and metalloids more accurately spanning a wide concentration range.
This, the institutions operating the facility — IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Amritha Vishwa Vidyapeetham (AVV), and IISc — say will be key in tracing sources of pollution, quantifying reactive-transport pathways of toxic metals, and assessing the efficiency of remediation methods.
The new lab, supported by the department of science and technology (DST), has been set up as part of project ‘Fast Forward to Sustainable Development Goal-6 : Acceptable and affordable water (4WARD).
“Facilities for accurate and precise determination of major, minor, and trace element concentration from natural water samples is critical for quality environmental and geochemical research. This multi-user facility will serve as an open access center for characterization of dissolved metals and metalloids for environmental and geochemical researchers from across the country,” the DST said.
The facility at IISC, consists of a combination of the two complicated scientific instruments which allows for accurate and precise determination of concentration for metals and metalloids from 100 ppm to 10 ppt (nine orders of magnitude). The two complicated scientific instruments installed at IISc help in doing this.
The project — 4WARD — was awarded to the said cluster of institutions under the Urban Water Systems programme, is focused on identification and alleviation of water quality and quantity related challenges faced by Tier-II Indian cities.
“The instrumentation includes a Quadrupole Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometer fitted with collision reaction cell (QQQ-ICP-MS) and an Inductively Couple Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer with dual detection capability (ICP-OES),” the DST said, without immediately elaborating how they work.
The DST, however, said that the detection limits for key environmental toxins such as chromium, iron, nickle, lead, etc at the facility are all less than 5 ppt.
“However, the ICP-OES is efficient in determining concentration between the range of 100s of ppm (mg/L) to less than 100 ppb (µg/L) level. The QQQ-ICP-MS, equipped with multiple reaction and collision gases, is efficient across six orders of concentration values going down to less than 10 ppt (ng/L),” the DST added.
Stating that good water management is critical to sustainable development and to people’s well-being because of its pivotal role for economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability, Amritha Vishwa Vidyapeetham notes that the project’s objectives are to to develop and demonstrate a programmatic approach towards real-life problem-solving in the Urban Water Systems.
“India is facing mounting challenges to sustain coverage of drinking water and sanitation services due to massive investment backlogs in infrastructure, rapid urbanization, and inadequate maintenance. 4WARD has a programmatic approach towards real-life problem-solving in the Urban Water Systems (UWS),” AVV says, adding that 4WARD specifically addresses improved water supply and sanitation even under extreme surface and groundwater quality challenges.



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