Household Sand Filters for Arsenic Removal

Household Sand Filters for Arsenic Removal
Technical Report
Household Sand Filters for
Arsenic Removal
An option to mitigate arsenic from iron-rich groundwater
Samuel Luzi, Michael Berg, Pham Thi Kim Trang, Pham Hung Viet, Roland Schertenleib
MOH
EAWAG
HUS
MARD
MONRE
Swiss Federal
Institute for
Environmental
Science and
Technology
Hanoi University
of Science,
Vietnam National
University
Ministry of
Agriculture and
Rural Development, Viet Nam
Ministry of Natural Ministry of Health, Swiss Agency for
Resources and
Viet Nam
Development and
Environment, Viet
Cooperation
Nam
SDC
Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG)
P.O. Box 611, Ueberlandstrasse 133, CH-8600 Duebendorf, Switzerland
Hanoi University of Science (HUS), Vietnam National University
Centre of Environmental Technology and Sustainable Development (CETASD)
334 Nguyen Trai Street, Thang Xuan, Hanoi, Vietnam
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
2 Ngoc Ha St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
83 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, Dong Da District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Ministry of Health (MOH)
Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
138A Giang Vo Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Swiss Cooperation Office Mekong Region, 44B Ly Thuong Kiet St., Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi, May 2004
This project has been jointly funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
and the Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG) in the
framework of the Swiss-Vietnamese cooperation project ESTNV (Environmental Science and
Technology in Northern Vietnam)
ISBN 3-905484-12-9
Authors
Samuel Luzi, EAWAG
Michael Berg*, EAWAG
Pham Thi Kim Trang, HUS
Pham Hung Viet, HUS
Roland Schertenleib, EAWAG
* Correspondence to: [email protected]
Acknowledgements
We are particularly grateful to the following persons for their assistance in this project:
SDC:
Markus Eggenberger, Dang Mai Dung, Barbara Boeni, Walter Meyer
MARD:
Nguyen Dinh Ninh, Le Quang Tuan, Pham Xuan Su
MONRE:
Dang Dinh Phuc
MOH:
Nguyen Huy Nga
NHEGD:
Vietnam Northern Hydrogeological- Engineering Geological Division,
Nguyen Van Dan, Tong Ngoc Thanh, Nguyen Thanh Hai
CETASD: Bui Hong Nhat, Luu Thanh Binh, Nguyen Thi Minh Hue, Nguyen Trong Hai, Pham Minh Khoi,
Vi Thi Mai Lan, Do Thi Hong Giang, and Truong Thu Huong
EAWAG:
Caroline Stengel, Jakov Bolotin, Walter Giger, Stephan Hug, Sylvie Peter (proofreading)
Cover photo: Household sand filter operated by a family in the Red River Delta
Bibliographic reference
Luzi S., Berg M., Pham T.K.T., Pham H.V., and Schertenleib R.
Household Sand Filters for Arsenic Removal – Technical Report
Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG)
Ueberlandstr. 133, CH-8600 Duebendorf, Switzerland
Reprints
Electronic copies of this report can be downloaded through the Internet.
www.arsenic.eawag.ch/publications
Table of Contents
page
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ........................................................................................................ 3
1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ 4
1.1. Natural Origin of Arsenic.............................................................................................. 4
1.2. Arsenic Contamination in the Red River Delta............................................................. 4
1.3. Sources of Drinking Water in Rural Areas of the Red River Delta ............................... 5
1.4. Spatial Arsenic Variations ............................................................................................ 6
1.5. Arsenic Mitigation Approach for Private Households ................................................... 6
1.6. Objectives of this Report.............................................................................................. 7
2. ORIGIN AND HEALTH EFFECTS OF ARSENIC .............................................................. 7
2.1. Origin of Arsenic .......................................................................................................... 7
2.2. Dissolution of Arsenic in Anoxic Groundwater ............................................................. 8
2.3. Effect of Extensive Groundwater Abstraction .............................................................. 8
2.4. Health Problems Caused by Chronic Arsenic Poisoning (Arsenicosis) ....................... 9
3. CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF HOUSEHOLD SAND
FILTERS ............................................................................................................................ 10
3.1. Design and Construction............................................................................................ 10
3.2. Enhancement of the Oxygen Availability in Sand Filters ........................................... 11
3.3. Microbial Activity in Sand Filters ................................................................................ 12
3.4. Operation and Maintenance....................................................................................... 12
3.5. Handling of Used and Arsenic-contaminated Sand ................................................... 12
4. PRINCIPLE OF ARSENIC REMOVAL............................................................................. 13
5. FIELD INVESTIGATIONS: TESTING ARSENIC REMOVAL .......................................... 14
5.1. Methods of Investigation ............................................................................................ 14
5.2. Arsenic Removal in Sand Filters................................................................................ 14
5.3. Passive Precipitation in Settling Tanks ...................................................................... 15
5.4. Role of Dissolved Iron and Phosphate in Groundwater ............................................. 16
5.5. Advantages of Sand Filters........................................................................................ 18
6. CASE STUDIES IN THE RED RIVER DELTA ................................................................. 19
7. APPLICABILITY OF THE RESULTS TO OTHER REGIONS OF VIETNAM AND THE
WORLD ............................................................................................................................. 21
7.1. Prerequisites .............................................................................................................. 21
7.2. Estimation of Iron Concentration and Arsenic Removal Efficiency ............................ 21
8. CONSEQUENCES OF THE ARSENIC PROBLEM FOR VIETNAM ............................... 23
8.1. Affected Population.................................................................................................... 23
8.2. Reduced Health Risks ............................................................................................... 24
9. SUGGESTIONS FOR THE VIETNAMESE NATIONAL ARSENIC MITIGATION PLAN. 25
10. REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 27
APPENDICES....................................................................................................................... 29
Figures and Tables
page
Figure 1. Satellite photograph of the Red River Delta................................................................. 4
Figure 2. Spatial variability of arsenic concentrations in a small village...................................... 6
Figure 3. Illustration of the widely accepted theory on the origin of arsenic in groundwater
of tropical and subtropical river deltas.......................................................................... 7
Figure 4: Photos of patients from Bangladesh affected by various stages of arsenicosis .......... 9
Figure 5. Household sand filter ................................................................................................. 10
Figure 6. Sand filter installed on a house roof........................................................................... 11
Figure 7. Aeration methods to enhance the oxygen supply in the sand filter:........................... 11
Figure 8. Illustration of arsenic adsorption to iron(hydr)oxides ................................................. 13
Figure 9. Arsenic removal efficiency of household sand filters ................................................. 15
Figure 10. Comparison of passive precipitation (settling tanks) and sand filters ...................... 16
Figure 11. Plot depicting arsenic removal rates as a function of iron........................................ 16
Figure 12. Residual arsenic concentration after sand filtration as a function of the Fe/As
(w/w) ratio ................................................................................................................ 17
Table 1: Thresholds for arsenic in drinking water........................................................................ 9
Table 2. Estimated arsenic removal efficiency in sand filters based on dissolved iron
concentrations in groundwater .................................................................................... 21
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Arsenic-rich groundwater is currently being used as drinking water by millions of households in different
parts of the world. The problem of arsenic intoxication by contaminated drinking water emerged in the
past two decades, when surface water and groundwater from open dug wells, formerly used to cover the
drinking water supply in rural areas of many tropical regions, were abandoned for groundwater pumped
through small-scale tubewells. As documented, chronic arsenic exposure can lead to severe health
problems, such as skin lesions, hyperkeratosis, melanosis, skin cancer and cancer of internal organs.
Arsenic pollution of groundwater has recently been recognized in the Red River Delta of Vietnam
through a groundwater study funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in the
framework of the Swiss-Vietnamese cooperation project ESTNV (Environmental Science and Technology
in Northern Vietnam). The groundwater of numerous households in this region is not only contaminated
by arsenic, but it also contains high iron concentrations as a result of highly anoxic conditions in the
aquifers. Arsenic removal is necessary in urban and communal waterworks, as well as in areas pumping
groundwater through family-based tubewells. EAWAG and CETASD with support from SDC have
therefore investigated the arsenic removal efficiency from groundwater by household sand filters in rural
areas of the Red River Delta.
The tested sand filters comprise two superimposed concrete containers: the upper container is filled
with locally available sand and the lower one serves to store the filtered water. Groundwater, which is
pumped from the tubewell into the upper container, trickles through the sand into the underlying water
storage tank. Arsenic removal is governed by the precipitation of iron(hydr)oxides which form a coating
on the sand surfaces. Arsenic then adsorbs to the iron(hydr)oxides and remains immobilised under oxic
condition.
The arsenic removal efficiency of sand filters was examined in 43 households whose pumped
groundwater contains arsenic concentrations exceeding the WHO drinking water guideline of 10 µg/L. A
mean arsenic removal efficiency of 80% was achieved in groundwaters containing 10–420 µg/L arsenic,
0–47 mg/L iron and 0–3.7 mg/L phosphorus. High iron concentrations clearly enhance arsenic removal,
whereas increased phosphate levels (>2 mg P/L) partly lower the removal efficiency.
Sand filters use locally available materials, are operated without chemicals, can treat a reasonable
amount of groundwater within a short time, and can be easily replicated by the affected communities. The
observable removal of iron from the pumped water immediately makes the use of a sand filter intelligible
even to people who have never heard of the arsenic problem. Thus, household sand filters are a viable
option for arsenic mitigation of iron-containing groundwater in Vietnam and other arsenic affected
regions.
This report proposes the implementation of early arsenic mitigation measures to prevent long-term
health effects. It also contains leaflets for widespread information on construction, use and maintenance of
household sand filters, especially for government authorities, decision-makers, stakeholders, NGOs,
ODAs, water specialists, and scientists confronted with arsenic mitigation needs.
Keywords
Arsenic Removal, Efficiency, Mechanism, Sand filter, Passive precipitation, Groundwater, Drinking
water, Origin of arsenic, Health risks, Chronic arsenic poisoning, Implications, Mitigation measures,
Information dissemination, Red River Delta, Vietnam.
-3-
1. INTRODUCTION
The welfare and development of a society are strongly dependent on a safe drinking water supply.
Long-term ingestion of arsenic-rich groundwater is not only a threat to human health in the Red
River Delta (Vietnam), but also in many other regions in the world. Consumption of arsenic-rich
water for more than 7-10 years can lead to chronic health problems, such as fatigue, hyperpigmentation, keratosis, skin cancer, cardiovascular and nervous affections, and, cancer of the
skin and internal organs1.
1.1. Natural Origin of Arsenic
Groundwater pollution by arsenic is often a natural phenomenon attributed to subsurface
sediments containing small amounts of arsenic. The arsenic remains fixed in the sediments as
long as the groundwater contains sufficient dissolved oxygen. However, arsenic is released from
the sediments if these come into contact with oxygen-depleted groundwater. Oxygen depletion in
groundwater is often caused by decomposition of organic material (e.g. peat), which is highly
abundant in soils of tropical river deltas. This natural process leads to arsenic contamination of
groundwater in, for example, the Red River Delta (Vietnam)2,3 and Bengal Delta (Bangladesh and
West Bengal)4.
1.2. Arsenic Contamination in the Red River Delta
The Red River Delta is one of several tropical regions in the world where high arsenic
concentrations in groundwater threaten human health2,5. Similar to the high levels found in
Bangladesh3, the measurements from the Red River Delta revealed arsenic concentrations of
1 to >1000 µg per litre of groundwater2.
UNICEF estimates that 17% of
Figure 1. Satellite photograph of the Red River Delta
Vietnam's population is currently using
groundwater from private tubewells as
drinking water supply6.
Until to date, only very few cases
of arsenic-related health problems have
been diagnosed in Vietnam7. Most
private tubewells in Vietnam have been
used for less than 10 years, while experience shows that it can take 10 or more
years before the first arsenic poisoning
symptoms become apparent. Yet, the
1
Hall 2002
Berg et al. 2001
3
Tran et al. 2003
4
BGS and DPHE 2001
5
Berg et al., forthcoming
6
UNICEF Vietnam 2002
7
Hanoi University of Science and Geological
Society of Vietnam 2000
2
-4-
expected number of arsenic-related health problems occurring in the future should not be
underestimated. Comprehensive studies on the distribution of arsenic occurrence and potential
health effects are currently conducted in Vietnam.
1.3. Sources of Drinking Water in Rural Areas of the Red River Delta
A. Groundwater
Dug well. Vertical pit of 1-5 m depth for groundwater accumulation, and the traditional system
for groundwater collection. Water from dug wells is generally low in arsenic (<20 µg/L) as it is
constantly aerated through its contact with air. The water may be contaminated by microbial or
chemical pollutants (e.g. bacteria, pesticides).
Settling tank. Water containers used for iron precipitation from anoxic groundwater (e.g.
groundwater from tubewells). Two adjacent tanks are used for consecutive particle precipitation
and settling. Groundwater is pumped into the first tank and a day later scooped into the second
tank for a second settling period.
Sand filter. Most efficient treatment process for groundwater exhibiting high iron concentrations.
In the peri-urban villages around Hanoi, this process is already widespread among households
affected by iron-rich groundwater (details are given below). Sand filters should frequently run dry
in order to prevent growing of harmful bacteria in standing water. The treated water can be stored
and used for several days.
Tap water. Water supply purified in public water treatment plants. Groundwater is usually
submitted to iron removal and disinfection, but not yet to arsenic removal. Although the iron
removal process can also lower arsenic levels, arsenic concentrations may still remain above 50
µg/L8. Additional public water treatment plants equipped with simple iron removal are currently
constructed in suburban areas to supply tap water to an increasing number of people.
B. Other sources of drinking water
Surface water. Although the use of surface water for human consumption is of minor importance
in the investigated villages around Hanoi, it may be an important source of drinking water in
more remote areas.
Rainwater. Rainwater runoff collected from the house roofs and stored in large tanks (1-5 m3).
This water, free of iron and arsenic, is collected to cover the drinking water requirements of a
family during the dry season. Construction of the rainwater tanks is quite expensive and the water
must be protected from light and dust. Rainwater is increasingly used by households in areas with
iron-rich groundwater. If properly protected from light and dust, rainwater can be stored and used
for several month.
8
Berg et al. 2001
-5-
Figure 2. Spatial variability of arsenic concentrations in a small village located in the Red
River Delta. This example shows that low and high As levels of <10 µg/L and >300 µg /L,
respectively, can be just a few meters apart
1.4. Spatial Arsenic Variations
The investigated areas reveal an extremely heterogeneous distribution of arsenic levels (see
Figure 2). The water of neighbouring households within the same village may exhibit arsenic
levels of both, below as well as significantly above the drinking water threshold9. This
unpredictable variability requires not only simple and efficient arsenic removal technologies on a
household level, but also an effective monitoring program to decide on the design and application
of mitigation measures.
1.5. Arsenic Mitigation Approach for Private Households
Arsenic mitigation approaches on a household level face several difficulties. An appropriate
system for arsenic removal should be efficient, cheap, socially accepted, user-friendly, locally
available and operated without the use of chemicals. None of the arsenic removal techniques
described in the international literature meet all these criteria. Arsenic removal technologies are
often limited to small study areas and therefore do not contribute to regional progress in arsenic
mitigation10.
Elevated concentrations of arsenic in groundwater are often accompanied by high levels of
dissolved iron. Iron concentrations (>5 mg/L) convey a bad taste to the groundwater, which in
Vietnam is sometimes described as "fishy". Some households in rural areas of the Red River
Delta have thus started to use simple sand filters or settling tanks to remove the iron from the
groundwater. Household sand filters are quite simple to operate and, most important, besides iron
mitigation also remove arsenic from the water to a remarkable extent.
9
Berg et al., forthcoming
USEPA 2000
10
-6-
1.6. Objectives of this Report
Since arsenic contamination of groundwater was recognised in Vietnam in 199811,12, the
Vietnamese government and NGOs working in the field of water and sanitation have set out to
find solutions to the arsenic problem. This report provides an overview of the efficiency of
household sand filters with regard to arsenic removal. It proposes the implementation of early
arsenic mitigation measures to prevent long-term health effects. Furthermore, it contains
information leaflets for widespread education in construction, use and maintenance of household
sand filters in Vietnam and elsewhere. The results and recommendations of this report shall assist
government authorities, decision makers, stakeholders, NGOs, ODAs, water specialists, and
scientists in the implementation of arsenic mitigation measures.
2. ORIGIN AND HEALTH EFFECTS OF ARSENIC
2.1. Origin of Arsenic
The most commonly accepted theory on the presence of arsenic in groundwaters postulates
anoxic dissolution of iron(hydr)oxides and release of previously adsorbed arsenic13,14. The arsenic
in the sediments and groundwater of the Red River Delta originates from the mountains in the
catchment of the Red River, and has been deposited during thousands of years15. Mountain
erosion leads to a release of rock-forming minerals and arsenic into the hydrosphere. Eroded iron
turns to rust, iron(hydr)oxide, and forms particles as well as coatings on the surface of silt and
sand. Iron(hydr)oxides are capable of scavenging dissolved arsenic from water and binding it to
its surface. Suspended particles with iron(hydr)oxide coatings and adsorbed arsenic are washed
into rivers and transported downstream. River water with high loads of particles generally
exhibits a characteristic red to yellowish brown colour caused by the iron, a phenomena that gave
the Red River its name. Arsenic is thus brought to the river deltas bound to sediment particles and
deposited in the soil with the settling particles.
In the flat lowlands of the river delta, suspended particles are deposited during floods. This
was the case particularly in ancient times when the flow of the river water was not yet controlled
by dykes. For thousands
of years, deposits of
Figure 3. Illustration of the widely accepted theory on the origin of
arsenic in groundwater of tropical and subtropical river deltas
river sediments have
created the soil layers
(sediments) that form the
entire delta as it is
known today. These
sediments reach more
than a hundred meters
11
Berg et al. 2001
Giger et al. 2003
13
Nickson et al. 2000
14
Smedley and Kinniburgh 2002
15
Tong 2002
12
-7-
below the today's topsoil layer. Arsenic adsorbed on the surface of sediment particles is thus
buried in the structure of the delta underground. The Red River Delta was formed by sediment
layers deposited in the last ~10,000 years.
2.2. Dissolution of Arsenic in Anoxic Groundwater
Arsenic release from particle surfaces is strongly dependent on the level of dissolved oxygen in
groundwater. The warm and wet climate in tropical regions of the delta contributes to a fastgrowing vegetation. During flooding of the delta, the high sediment load of rivers leads to a
rather rapid covering of the topsoil layers, including its vegetation. This process, resulting in the
entrapment and subsequent burial of high amounts of organic material (rotting plants, peat), leads
to anoxic groundwater conditions (oxygen depletion) in deeper sediment layers.
Some sediment layers in the delta architecture are termed aquifers since they contain a
considerable amount of sand and gravel which can be invaded by groundwater. The groundwater
in aquifers close to the topsoil is often oxic (dissolved oxygen is abundant). However, organic
material such as peat can serve as substrate ("food") for microorganisms to thrive on. These
microorganisms consume dissolved oxygen to degrade organic material, thereby leading to an
oxygen depletion in the groundwater (anoxic conditions). Under anoxic conditions, some
microorganisms can use iron(hydr)oxides as a source of energy instead of oxygen. Degradation of
solid iron(hydr)oxide particles releases arsenic formerly attached firmly to the particle surface.
Arsenic deposition with sediments in the delta and dissolution under anoxic conditions created by
high levels of organic material can lead to the high concentrations of dissolved arsenic in
groundwater. The irregular distribution of organic material in the underground can partly explain
the highly heterogeneous arsenic distribution observed in many affected areas.
2.3. Effect of Extensive Groundwater Abstraction
A recent study conducted in Bangladesh describes the influence of human activity on elevated
arsenic levels in groundwater16. This study is based on the theory of arsenic release from
iron(hydr)oxides as described above, and attributes the arsenic problem partly to enhanced
groundwater pumping for irrigation purposes. Extensive groundwater pumping rapidly lowers the
groundwater table and draws down water containing organic material, which may stimulate
microbial activity, thereby accelerating oxygen depletion and arsenic release. Due to the high
groundwater demand in the Red River Delta, the groundwater table of its aquifers have been
lowered by 20–30 meters17. This situation could enhance future dissolution and mobility of
arsenic.
16
17
Harvey et al. 2002
Berg et al. 2001
-8-
Hyperpigmentation
Melanoma
Keratosis
"Black foot disease"
Figure 4: Photos of patients from Bangladesh affected by various stages of arsenicosis
2.4. Health Problems Caused by Chronic Arsenic Poisoning (Arsenicosis)
Arsenic concentrations of 50 µg per litre of water can cause chronic health problems if such water
is consumed over a period of 5-10 years18. Development of the disease is strongly dependent on
exposure time and arsenic accumulation in the body, but age, nutritional habits and lifestyle of the
exposed person may also have an influence on the occurrence of health problems.
Skin ailments are generally the first symptoms which develop after a few years of continued
arsenic ingestion, i.e., hypopigmentation (white spots on skin), hyperpigmentation (dark spots on
skin) and keratosis (break up of the skin on hands and feet). More serious health affections such
as skin cancer or cardiovascular and nervous affections are known to appear with a latency of 10
or more years. After 15-30 years of exposure, victims often suffer from lung, kidney or bladder
cancer19.
Table 1: Thresholds for arsenic in drinking water
WHO guideline
10 µg/L
EU
10 µg/L
USA
50 µg/L
USA (in 2006)
10 µg/L
Bangladesh
50 µg/L
Vietnam (since 2002)
10 µg/L
18
19
Smith et al. 2000
Mazumder 2003
-9-
3. CONSTRUCTION, OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE OF
HOUSEHOLD SAND FILTERS
3.1. Design and Construction
Bricks and concrete are necessary for construction of the two superimposed tanks. The upper tank
(c) serves as filter and the underlying container (f) is used to store treated water. The upper
tank must have one or a few outlets either at the bottom (d) or in the front wall (e). A simple
sieve (e.g. piece of cloth) can be used to prevent the sand from flushing out of the filter.
Figure 5. Household sand filter evaluated for
arsenic removal efficiency in rural areas of the Red
River Delta, Vietnam
The upper tank is filled with locally available sand. The groundwater is pumped from the
tubewell (hand pump or electrical pump) into the filter and trickles through the sand layer into the
water storage tank. Installation of a tap directly at the outlet of the upper tank (f) is not
recommended. The sand filter compartment needs to run dry between two subsequent filtration
periods to prevent microbial activity and maintain oxic conditions (see below).
If the sand filter is constructed on the roof of a building (Figure 6), a pipe can be used to
deliver treated water from the storage tank to a tap further down. In this case, the roof must be
very strong to hold the sand filter which can weigh 2-3 tons!
- 10 -
Figure 6. Sand filter installed on a house roof
3.2. Enhancement of the Oxygen Availability in Sand Filters
The estimated oxygen concentration in a small sand filter (0.05 m3) indicates that enough oxygen
is present in the dry sand to allow treatment of more than 150 litres of groundwater at a time even
in the case of very high iron concentrations (50 mg/L). However, microbial activity in the filter,
treatment of much higher groundwater quantities, or a filter design that does not allow complete
drainage of the sand body, could lead to oxygen depletion and lower filter efficiency.
Installation of a simple aeration step prior to filtration, such as a sprinkler (a perforated
basin or pipe) over the sand container or - even simpler - a cascade over which the pumped water
runs down into the sand filter, can further enhance oxygen availability in sand filters.
Figure 7. Aeration methods to
enhance the oxygen supply in the
sand filter:
a) cascade, b) sprinkler
- 11 -
3.3. Microbial Activity in Sand Filters
Similar to the microbial activity in aquifers, which eventually leads to the release of arsenic into
the groundwater, bacteria can also influence the processes of arsenic removal in sand filters.
Since bacteria are ubiquitous in the environment, colonisation of a sand filter by
microorganisms is only a matter of time if the living conditions are favourable. The organic
material, on which bacteria feed, can either get into the filter as dissolved organic matter (DOM)
or fall into the tank as dirt, dust, leaves, dead insects, etc. Degradation of organic material by
microorganisms depletes the oxygen (which is essential for iron oxidation in the groundwater
filtration process) and, therefore, reduces the arsenic removal efficiency.
Microorganisms grow best in aqueous environments. Measures to inhibit microbial activity
in the sand filter tank are therefore important and include: i) complete drainage of the water from
the filter tank after each batch of treatment, which is achieved by placing the water outlet at the
very bottom of the filter (see Figure 5); ii) covering the sand compartment with a lid to prevent
the influx of solid organic material (e.g., leafs or insects); iii) regular exchange of the filter sand;
and iv) removal of microbial colonies by thorough cleaning and brushing of the filter walls every
time the sand is exchanged.
3.4. Operation and Maintenance
Since the filter sand can get clogged by iron(hydr)oxide precipitates, it should be exchanged
every 1-2 months, depending on the iron concentration in groundwater and amount of filtered
water. At this point, both tanks should be cleaned to prevent bacterial activity. Used sand can be
discarded in backyards, on dust roads, in large rivers or used as construction material (see below).
Disposal in gardens or on fields must be avoided as arsenic release and accumulation in plants
could be critical. To prevent bacterial activity, the sand filter and the water storage tank should be
covered, and only clean utensils should be used to scoop out water from the storage tank.
Sand filter efficiency is highest once the sand is coated with iron(hydr)oxides (red to brown
colour). When the filter is loaded with new sand, an ideal filter efficiency can be re-established
by filtering groundwater and discarding the filtered water until the sand turns slightly brown.
3.5. Handling of Used and Arsenic-contaminated Sand
Arsenic can not be destroyed because it is a natural element. Its concentration in groundwater can
be significantly lowered by sand filtration, but it will in turn be concentrated on the sand surface
(see chapter 4.2.). Concern raised about re-contamination of the environment by discarded
arsenic-contaminated filter sand are put into perspective by the following considerations:
¾ Arsenic does not re-desorb from iron-coated particles as long as oxygen is present.
Disposal of used filter sand on roads or in rivers should therefore not be a problem.
Disposal on irrigated fields, which could turn anoxic, must be avoided. Disposal in
gardens or on vegetable fields is also not recommended, as anoxic conditions at the plant
roots could lead to an accumulation of arsenic in agricultural products.
- 12 -
4. PRINCIPLE OF ARSENIC REMOVAL
Arsenic removal in sand filters is governed by precipitation of initially dissolved iron on the
surface of sand grains. Dissolved Fe(II) is oxidised by oxygen to Fe(III), which quickly forms
insoluble iron(hydr)oxide and precipitates to be readily adsorbed to the sand surface to form a
coating. Subsequently, such coatings catalyse further oxidation and precipitation of dissolved
iron. Oxidation of Fe(II) releases reactive oxidants, which can oxidise As(III) species to more
strongly adsorbable As(V) species. As(V) and - to a lesser extent - As(III) then adsorb to the
coated sand particles where arsenic remains immobilised under oxic condition.
In other words, a sand filter reverses the process of arsenic release occurring in
groundwater, where anoxic conditions lead to the dissolution of solid iron(hydr)oxide phases and
simultaneous release of adsorbed arsenic. If anoxic groundwater comes into contact with air (after
pumping), oxygen is rapidly dissolved and leads to oxygen-rich (oxic) water, where iron is
precipitating as insoluble iron(hydr)oxides to which the arsenic is adsorbed.
Figure 8. Illustration of arsenic adsorption to iron(hydr)oxides
Arsenic removal is thus highly dependent on the iron concentration, i.e., if more iron is initially
present, larger surface areas are formed and more oxidants are produced for arsenic oxidation.
The effect of other groundwater constituents can be rationalised in the light of the described
mechanism. Phosphate and other anions behave in a similar way as arsenic species (oxyanions).
They can also adsorb to iron(hydr)oxide surfaces and, therefore, compete with arsenic for the
available adsorption sites. Of all the relevant anions present in natural groundwaters, phosphate
has the highest adsorption capacity to iron(hydr)oxide surfaces, and is thus a key factor governing
arsenic removal20.
20
Luzi et al., forthcoming
- 13 -
5. FIELD INVESTIGATIONS:
TESTING ARSENIC REMOVAL EFFICIENCY
5.1. Methods of Investigation
Study area
The presented field study was conducted in three villages located in the Red River delta, namely,
Thuong Cat, Hoang Liet and Van Phuc. Samples of raw groundwater and of sand-filtered water
were collected from 54 households using small-scale tubewells and sand filters as described
above. Only households with groundwater arsenic concentrations above 10 µg/L (43 households)
were considered for the data evaluation.
Sampling and sample preservation
All of the 54 sites were sampled and investigated two repetitive times in September 2002 and
December 2002. Groundwater samples were collected after establishment of stable oxygen
readings (portable oxygen sensor) in the pumped water, i.e., typically after 3 to 5 minutes of
pumping. All samples were filtered on-site by disposable 0.45 µm cellulose nitrate filters, filled
into pre-washed (hydrochloric acid and distilled water) PET bottles, acidified with nitric acid
(1%) in order to prevent precipitation of iron and arsenic, and stored in the dark until to analysis.
To study passive precipitation of arsenic and iron, unfiltered and not-acidified samples were
exposed to air for 24 hours. The water was then decanted from the precipitate, filtered (0.45 µm),
and acidified before analysis.
Analysis of arsenic, iron and phosphate
Concentrations of total iron and total arsenic were determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy
(AAS). Phosphate concentrations were measured by the molybdate blue method.
Quality assurance
The quality of the measurements was evaluated by analysing all samples at CETASD (Hanoi,
Vietnam) as well as at EAWAG (Duebendorf, Switzerland). The results of EAWAG and
CETASD were in good agreement for both, arsenic and iron concentrations (r2 0.91-0.99 for As,
0.96-0.99 for Fe).
5.2. Arsenic Removal in Sand Filters
The arsenic removal efficiency of sand filters was investigated in 54 households, of which 43
households were using groundwater with arsenic concentrations exceeding the WHO drinking
water guideline of 10 µg/L. Samples from the same 54 households were collected in September
2002 and again in December 2002. The arsenic concentrations determined in the raw
groundwater as well as in sand filtered water did not vary by more than 15% between the two
replicate investigations21. The studies have been carried out in the framework of the SwissVietnamese cooperation project ESTNV (Environ-mental Science and Technology in Northern
Vietnam).
21
More details will be given in Luzi et al., forthcoming
- 14 -
Figure 9. Arsenic removal efficiency of household sand filters (average values from
repetitive investigations conducted in September and December 2002). Only the 43
households with initial groundwater arsenic levels >10 µg/L are displayed
Figure 9 depicts the results of sand filter arsenic removal in the studied households. All filters
were capable of lowering arsenic concentrations with efficiencies ranging between 20 to >99%.
Residual arsenic levels below the WHO guideline of 10 µg/L were reached by 40% of the studied
sand filters, and 90% were below 50 µg/L. The 10% of the households exceeding 50 µg/L after
filtration can be attributed to low initial iron concentrations and/or high initial phosphate levels in
the groundwater (see chapter 5.4. below).
The mean arsenic removal efficiency of sand filters amounts to 80%
5.3. Passive Precipitation in Settling Tanks
For reasons of comparison, passive precipitation experiments were conducted by exposing to air
for 24 hours the raw groundwater collected from the same tubewells. Remaining arsenic
concentrations were analysed after (passive) precipitation and sedimentation of iron(hydr)oxide
particles. This method simulates the processes occurring in a water settling tank and generates a
comparable set of data based merely on water composition and not on filter specifications22, such
as filter volume, type of sand or flow rate.
As illustrated in Figure 10, the arsenic removal rates by passive precipitation were almost
identical to the ones of groundwater treated in household sand filters. Compared to simple
settling tanks, the sand filter only performed slightly better if removal rates were below 70%.
This indicates that sand filters do not greatly enhance arsenic removal compared to passive
22
Roberts et al. 2004
- 15 -
particle sedimentation. It also reveals that
filter specifications play a minor role and that
groundwater composition is the key factor
determining arsenic removal efficiency.
Figure 10. Comparison of passive precipitation
(settling tanks) and sand filters in arsenic removal
rates
5.4. Role of Dissolved Iron and Phosphate in Groundwater
Dissolved iron is the key parameter governing arsenic removal (see Figure 11). Arsenic removal
from groundwater with an initial iron concentration of >12 mg/L is very efficient. However, the
arsenic removal rate from water with an initial iron concentration of <1 mg/L is quite poor. High
phosphate concentrations (and to a much lesser extent other anions such as silicate, bicarbonate
and chloride) can reduce the arsenic removal efficiency.
Figure 11. Plot depicting arsenic removal rates as a function of iron dissolved in freshly
pumped groundwater. The magnified pink symbols indicate samples with high phosphate
concentrations (above 2.5 mg P/L)
- 16 -
Figure 12. Residual arsenic concentration after sand filtration as a function of the Fe/As
(w/w) ratio. The magnified pink symbols indicate samples with >2.5 mg P/L phosphate
concentrations
The proportion at which dissolved iron and arsenic are present in groundwater is a suitable
parameter for estimating the arsenic removal potential. A common way to describe this parameter
is the Fe/As weight/weight (w/w) ratio, i.e., the iron concentration in mg/L divided by the arsenic
concentration in mg/L. Figure 12 illustrates the residual arsenic concentrations measured in the
filtered water as a function of the corresponding Fe/As ratios determined in raw groundwater.
It becomes evident that an Fe/As ratio of 50 or more is necessary to reduce arsenic
concentrations to levels below 50 µg/L. To reach the WHO drinking water guideline and the
Vietnamese drinking water limit of 10 µg/L in all cases, considerably higher Fe/As ratios of >250
are required. The influence of >2.5 mg P/L phosphate concentrations is clearly visible in Figures
11 and 12.
Parameters influencing arsenic removal
¾ The most important parameter is the concentration of dissolved iron in groundwater. The
arsenic removal rates amount to >80% for groundwater containing more than 12 mg/L
iron, and to less than 60% if iron concentrations are below 3-4 mg/L.
¾ Phosphate concentrations exceeding 2 mg P/L can hinder the arsenic removal efficiency,
as phosphate competes with arsenic for adsorption sites on the iron(hydr)oxide surfaces.
¾ Iron therefore strongly enhances and phosphate slightly decreases arsenic removal.
¾ Arsenic(V) can better be removed than arsenic(III) species23 (see above).
23
Roberts et al. 2004
- 17 -
5.5. Advantages of Sand Filters
Compared to tanks for passive particle settling, the advantages of sand filters do not arise from an
enhanced arsenic removal capacity, but from their practical benefits for the users to operate and
manage them. The process of iron and arsenic removal is accelerated by the sand surface and
completed within a few minutes. This allows treatment of reasonable quantities of water
whenever needed. Clear, filtered water can be stored in the underlying tank. In comparison,
passive precipitation and sedimentation in settling tanks require several hours. Furthermore, the
treated water in these tanks is still turbid after one day.
¾ Sand filters and passive precipitation revealed almost identical arsenic removal
efficiencies.
¾ The filter volume or type of sand used in the tested sand filters had no influence on
performance.
- 18 -
6. CASE STUDIES IN THE RED RIVER DELTA
The distribution of iron and arsenic concentrations in the groundwater is often highly
heterogeneous as shown in Figure 2. Since household tubewells pump groundwater from varying
depths and use different water treatment systems after pumping (e.g. settling tank, sand filter),
the water quality for human consumption varies considerably from place to place. The following
case studies conducted in the Hanoi Province describe characteristic households with respect to
their groundwater use.
Family 1
(<10 µg/L arsenic, <2 mg/L iron)
Family 1 lives in a village north of Hanoi
City. The groundwater from its tubewell
contains little iron and remains clear after
pumping. The family members use
untreated groundwater for drinking and
cooking. The household water storage tank
can store water for several days or weeks.
Since the arsenic concentration is below
10 µg/L, the groundwater does not pose an
increased health risk for this family.
Hand pump and storage tank
Family 2
(300 µg/L arsenic, 15 mg/L iron)
This family lives south of Hanoi City. The
groundwater conveyed by an electrical
pump is "tanh", as it contains a lot of iron
(15 mg/L) and has a bad taste. The family
does not want to drink the water that turns
yellow shortly after pumping. Family
members have recently constructed a sand
filter with the help of neighbours from the
same village. The family also collects
rainwater as an alternative source of
drinking water. Yet, the household is
unaware of the high arsenic level (300
µg/L) of its groundwater. However, thanks
to the sand filter, over 80% of the arsenic
is removed from the groundwater. The
filtered water contains less than 50 µg/L
arsenic.
Sand filter on top of storage tank
- 19 -
Family 3
(190 µg/L arsenic, 18 mg/L iron)
Family 3 lives in the same village as
family 2. The groundwater is also "tanh"
and contains a lot of iron. Instead of
installing a sand filter, family 3 uses two
water settling tanks. Groundwater is
pumped into tank 1 and later scooped into
tank 2. More than 80% of the iron and
arsenic is removed, but the process is very
slow and the treated water remains slightly
turbid.
Settling tanks (right: tank 1 for aeration and settling;
left: tank 2 for further settling)
Family 4
(160 µg/L arsenic, <2 mg/L iron)
Family 4 lives north of Hanoi City. The
groundwater of most households in this
village exhibits low iron and low arsenic
(<10 µg/L) concentrations. Yet, the
groundwater of family 4 is an exception, as
it reveals low iron but high arsenic levels
(160 µg/L). Since the family is unaware of
the arsenic problem, it does not use any
kind of water treatment system. The
efficiency of a sand filter under these
conditions would be poor. This family is
exposed to a high risk of arsenic
poisoning.
Electrical pump and storage tank
Of all the case studies described above, family 4 is obviously confronted with the most critical
situation. The family members are exposed to a high health risk due to elevated arsenic
concentrations, and they are completely unaware of the quality problem as their tubewell water is
clear and apparently clean. Unlike family 2, the low iron levels do not prevent the people from
drinking untreated tubewell water. Furthermore, under the given conditions of family 4, the
efficiency of simple arsenic removal measures, such as household sand filters, would be poor.
The incidence of tubewells with a high arsenic concentration yet extremely low iron level is
an exception in the studied villages.
- 20 -
7. APPLICABILITY OF THE RESULTS TO OTHER REGIONS OF
VIETNAM - AND THE WORLD
7.1. Prerequisites
The results presented in the previous chapters are applicable to the study area of the Hanoi
Province. Interpolation of these data to the rest of the Red River Delta, the Mekong Delta or other
affected regions should only be considered in the light of the groundwater composition of the
studied areas. As shown in this report, iron and phosphate are the dominant groundwater
parameters influencing the efficiency of arsenic removal. Iron levels in the studied households
were generally high (average 13 mg/L) and, thereby, favourable for arsenic removal.
A comprehensive database on the (co-)occurrence of arsenic, iron and phosphate is
currently not available in Vietnam to provide an overall estimate of the potential arsenic removal
efficiency of household sand filters. Use of sand filters in the studied area diminish arsenic
concentrations in all households affected by arsenic-contaminated (>10 µg/L) groundwater. High
arsenic levels are often accompanied by high iron concentrations. Only very few cases of elevated
arsenic concentrations were detected in groundwater having low iron levels (<1 mg/L). In almost
50% of all the studied households, iron concentrations were high enough (>12 mg Fe/L) to
guarantee an arsenic removal efficiency of more than 80%.
Since groundwater parameters other than iron and phosphate may also influence the
arsenic removal efficiency, the local applicability of household sand filters must always be
tested before they are promoted in other affected regions, especially if the groundwater
composition differs significantly from the tested Red River Delta.
7.2. Estimation of Iron Concentration and Arsenic Removal Efficiency
The efficiency of sand filters in arsenic removal can be roughly estimated from known
(measured) iron concentrations or from the intensity (and colour) of iron(hydr)oxide precipitation
developing in freshly pumped groundwater after one hour of contact with air (see Table 2).
Table 2. Estimated arsenic removal efficiency in sand filters based on dissolved iron
concentrations in groundwater
24
Iron concentration in
groundwater
Water colouring caused by
iron-precipitation24
Estimated arsenic removal
in sand filters
>12 mg/L
dark yellow/red
>80%
1-12 mg/L
light yellow
20-90%
<1 mg/L
clear
<20%
Colour developing in freshly pumped groundwater based on turbidity of iron(hydr)oxide precipitates after one hour
of contact with air.
- 21 -
A rough estimate of iron concentrations based on water turbidity and colour intensity (see colour
scale below) can easily be established if laboratory analysis of iron is not possible. It must be kept
in mind that phosphate concentrations of >2.5 mg/L can decrease the arsenic removal efficiency
of sand filters. Phosphate concentrations also have to be considered to obtain a more accurate
evaluation of sand filter applicability. However, a clear negative influence of high phosphate
concentrations on arsenic removal was only observed in 5% of all the tested households.
Colour scale for iron concentration estimates in groundwater
The household sand filter efficiency can be estimated on the basis of turbidity and colour
developing in freshly pumped groundwater after one hour of contact with air. To obtain
accurate results, the water must be shaken or stirred to re-suspend the settled particles before
colour reading.
The colour scale presented below is derived from photographs taken from the iron
precipitates in natural groundwater samples. PET bottles (6-7 cm diameter) were filled with
freshly pumped groundwater of known iron concentration and average phosphate (1-1.5
mg/L) and silicate (15-20 mg/L) levels. The bottles were occasionally shaken and
photographed the next day against a white background (indirect sunlight around noon).
Note: Background, light intensity and other water constituents may influence the perceived
water colour.
iron <1 mg/L
no arsenic removal
iron 1-12 mg/L
arsenic removal efficiency
20 to 90%
- 22 -
iron >12 mg/L
arsenic removal efficiency
>80%
8. CONSEQUENCES OF THE ARSENIC PROBLEM FOR VIETNAM
Groundwater is the only drinking water source potentially contaminated by natural arsenic. In
rural areas of the Red River Delta, untreated iron-rich groundwater is not first choice for drinking
or cooking, as iron affects the taste and appearance of the pumped water. In these regions,
groundwater is preferably replaced by rainwater, public tap water, surface water, groundwater
from dug wells, or groundwater treated by household sand filters (or settling tanks). All these
measures significantly lower the arsenic intake and, hence, reduce the risk of adverse health
impacts.
8.1. Affected Population
To conduct an accurate evaluation on the arsenic-exposed population of Vietnam, the following
questions have to be answered:
Question
Current knowledge
What areas of Vietnam reveal high
arsenic concentrations?
High arsenic concentrations were found scattered throughout
the Red River Delta25.
Elevated arsenic concentrations are also expected in the upper
Mekong Delta.
Some of the other alluvial river deltas may be affected
occasionally.
How many people live in these
areas?
Red River Delta: 11 million.
Mekong Delta: 17 million.
How many households use private
tubewells in the affected areas26?
According to UNICEF, 17% of the private Vietnamese
households use groundwater from tubewells as drinking water27.
According to UNICEF, 3 million people in Vietnam are
currently exposed to elevated arsenic concentrations, and 10
million are at risk28.
How many households with pumped
contaminated groundwater apply a
sand filter?
No data available.
How efficient are sand filters in
arsenic removal?
The average arsenic removal efficiency amounts to 80% (see
chapter 5).
Arsenic removal is highly dependent on dissolved iron levels.
The arsenic removal efficiency is reduced by high phosphate
concentrations (>2 mg/L).
What fraction of untreated groundwater is consumed for dietary
purposes?
No comprehensive data available.
25
Berg et al. 2001; Hydrogeological Division II 2000; Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam 2001
In some regions, mainly in the south of Vietnam, the groundwater supply uses small-scale pumping stations and
treatment plants shared by some 50 households
27
UNICEF Vietnam 2002
28
UNICEF Vietnam 2001
26
- 23 -
Mainly due to the heterogeneity of the arsenic occurrence, the number of threatened households
in the contaminated areas of Vietnam cannot be accurately evaluated from the available database.
However, it can be concluded that the households which apply a sand filter or a settling tank can
significantly lower (80%) the mean arsenic intake.
8.2. Reduced Health Risks
Little is known on the number and density of tubewells and household sand filters in arseniccontaminated areas of Vietnam. Conclusions on the prevention of arsenic related health effects
can only be drawn for households already applying a sand filter or if all the households in the
affected areas are assumed to use a sand filter29.
¾ In 90% of the households using groundwater with arsenic levels above 50 µg/L, the
arsenic concentration can be reduced to less than 50 µg/L, and in 30% to less than 10 µg/L.
The risk of severe health effects in these households can be lowered considerably by sand
filters.
¾ In the overall study area, 40% of all households using groundwater with arsenic
concentrations exceeding the WHO drinking water guideline of 10 µg/L can even reduce
arsenic levels to less than 10 µg/L with a sand filter and, therefore, prevent any further
health risks.
¾ In the studied households, the arsenic concentration in sand-filtered water never exceeded
100 µg/L. Health problems caused by arsenic will therefore require far more time to
develop or become less severe in households applying a sand filter.
29
Conclusions are drawn under the assumption that high arsenic and iron concentrations of co-occur, as it has been
observed in this and many other studies
- 24 -
9. SUGGESTIONS FOR THE VIETNAMESE NATIONAL ARSENIC
MITIGATION PLAN
Sand filters can be of key importance to bridge the gap until the national action plan develops
better solutions for arsenic mitigation. Promotion of household sand filters appears simple, as this
system is already adopted by parts of the rural population of Vietnam. Furthermore, construction
and operation of sand filters is simple and inexpensive. The filters use locally available materials,
are operated without chemicals and can treat a reasonable amount of groundwater within a short
time. The observable removal of iron from the pumped water immediately makes the use of a
sand filter intelligible even to people who have never heard of the arsenic problem.
Arsenic contamination of groundwater in the Red River Delta has fortunately been
identified at an early stage. Due to the relatively short exposure time of the affected people up till
now, very few people have developed health problems so far. Yet, since symptoms of chronic
arsenic poisoning can take 10 or more years to develop, the number of people being affected by
arsenic related health problems must not be underestimated in the future. Preventive mitigation
measures are therefore of utmost importance.
Planned arsenic mitigation programs in Vietnam30 address the arsenic problem on various
levels. The government action plan foresees the training of water supply and health staff, as well
as projects to intensify communication, information and cooperation in Vietnam and on an
internationally level. It will also encompass baseline studies on the occurrence of arsenic and
release mechanism(s) in groundwater, monitoring of large areas, and research on arsenic removal
technologies. Arsenic removal is required in urban and communal waterworks31,32, as well as on a
very small scale in tubewells of private household throughout the affected areas.
The following strategies could support arsenic removal efforts, particularly in the light of arsenicrelated health prevention efforts.
A. Knowledge extension on water use habits and sand filter applicability
A1 Determine the ratio of tubewell water (sand filtered/untreated) being used as drinking
water in households of arsenic-contaminated regions.
A2 Map iron and phosphate concentrations as a function of arsenic levels to determine the
applicability of household sand filters in affected areas on the basis of the results presented
in this report.
A3 Identify areas ("hot spots") where high arsenic concentrations and low iron levels co-occur
in the groundwater and thus sand filters are not effective with regard to arsenic removal.
30
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development 2002
Duong et al. 2003
32
Pham et al. 2003
31
- 25 -
B. Promotion of household sand filters and alternative sources of drinking water
B1 Provide advice on the construction of a sand filter to all the families pumping iron-rich
water. Prepare manuals, leaflets or posters to facilitate the transfer of knowledge in rural
areas (see examples in Appendices 1 and 2).
B2 Educate government officials in the benefits of household sand filters. Involve local
authorities (i.e., Communal Peoples Committees) in the distribution of information
material.
B3 Supply poor families with construction material.
B4 Promote alternative sources of drinking water in areas with low iron / high arsenic
occurrence. Recommend the use of other available sources of drinking water (dug wells,
rainwater), or supply arsenic-free water by installing a communal water treatment plant in
these areas.
––––––––––––––––––––––––
- 26 -
10. REFERENCES
Berg M., Giger W., Tran H.C., Pham H.V., Pham T.K.T., Schertenleib R. Extent and Severity of Arsenic
Pollution in Vietnam and Cambodia, forthcoming.
Berg M., Tran H.C., Nguyen T.C., Pham H.V., Schertenleib R., Giger W. (2001) Arsenic Contamination
of Groundwater and Drinking Water in Vietnam: A Human Health Threat, Environmental Science &
Technology, 35, 2621-2626.
BGS and DPHE (2001) Arsenic contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh, Kinniburgh D.G. and
Smedley P.L. (Editors). Volume 1: Summary, British Geological Survey and Bangladesh Department
of Public Health Engineering, BGS Report WC/00/19.
Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam (2001), Current Situation of Arsenic Pollution in
Vietnam. Hanoi, Vietnam.
Duong H.A., Berg M., Hoang M.H., Pham H.V., Gallard H., Giger W., von Gunten U. (2003)
Trihalomethane Formation by Chlorination of Ammonium- and Bromide-containing Groundwater in
Water Supplies of Hanoi, Vietnam, Water Research, 37, 3242–3252.
Giger W., Berg M., Pham H.V., Duong H.A., Tran H.C., Cao T.H., Schertenleib R. (2003) Environmental
Analytical Research in Northern Vietnam – A Swiss-Vietnamese Cooperation focusing on Arsenic and
Organic Contaminants in Aquatic Environments and Drinking Water. Chimia, 57, 529–536.
Hall A.H. (2002) Chronic arsenic poisoning, Toxicology Letters, 128, 69-72.
Hanoi University of Science and Geological Society of Vietnam (2000). Proceedings of the International
Workshop "Arsenic Pollution: Current Situation, its Impacts on Public Health and Preventive
Solutions".
Harvey C.F., Swartz C.H., Badruzzaman A.B.M., Keon-Blute N., Yu W., Ashraf Ali M., Jay J., Beckie R.,
Niedan V., Brabander D., Oates P.M., Ashfaque K.N., Islam S., Hemond H.F., Feroze A.M. (2002)
Arsenic mobility and groundwater extraction in Bangladesh, Science, 298, 1602-1606.
Hydrogeological Division II (2000) Annual Report 1999, Vietnam Geological Survey, Hanoi, Vietnam (in
Vietnamese).
Luzi S, Berg M., Pham T.K.T., Pham H.V. Arsenic Removal from Groundwater by Household Sand
Filters and by Passive Co-precipitation with Iron(hydr)oxides: Comparative Field Study in Vietnam,
forthcoming.
Mazumder D.N.G. (2003) Chronic arsenic toxicity: Clinical features, epidemiology, and treatment:
Experience in West Bengal, Journal of Environmental Science and Health Part A - Toxic/Hazardous
Substances & Environmental Engineering, 38, 141-163.
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (2002) National Action Plan to address Arsenic
Contamination of Vietnam's Water Supply. Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Nickson R.T., McArthur J.M., Ravenscroft P., Burgees W.G., Ahmed K.M. (2000) Mechanism of arsenic
release to groundwater, Bangladesh and West Bengal, Applied Geochemistry, 15, 403-413.
Pham H.V., Tran H.C., Cao T.H., Hoang V.H., Berg M., Giger W., Schertenleib R. (2003) Investigation of
Arsenic Removal Technologies for Drinking Water in Vietnam. In “Arsenic Exposure and Health
Effects V” , Eds. W.R. Chappell, C.O. Abernathy, R.L. Calderon, and D.J. Thomas. Elsevier Science,
459–469.
Roberts L.C., Hug S.J., Ruettimann T., Billah M., Khan A.W., Rahman M.T. (2004) Arsenic Removal with
Iron(II) and Iron (III) in Waters with High Silicate and Phosphate Concentrations, Environmental
Science & Technology, 38, 307-315.
Smedley P.L. and Kinniburgh D.G. (2002) A review of the source, behaviour and distribution of arsenic in
natural waters, Applied Geochemistry, 17, 517-568.
Smith A.H., Lingas E.O., Rahman M. (2000) Contamination of drinking-water by arsenic in Bangladesh:
a public health emergency, Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 78, 1093-1103.
- 27 -
Tong Ngoc Thanh (2002) Arsenic Pollution in Groundwater in the Red River Delta. Northern
Hydrogeological- Engineering Geological Division (NHEGD), Geological Survey of Vietnam.
Tran H.C., Nguyen T.H., Berg M., Pham H.V. (2003) Investigation of Arsenic Release from Sediment
Minerals to Water Phases. In “Arsenic Exposure and Health Effects V”, Eds. W.R. Chappell, C.O.
Abernathy, R.L. Calderon, and D.J. Thomas. Elsevier Science, 93–101.
UNICEF Vietnam (2001) Presentation at the ESCAP-UNICEF-WHO Expert Group Meeting “Solving the
Arsenic Crisis in the Asia-Pacific Region”. 2-4 May, Bangkok Thailand.
UNICEF Vietnam (2002) Arsenic Contamination: Vietnam's Pathway to Alleviation. Water, Environment
and Sanitation Section.
USEPA (2000) Technologies and costs for removal of arsenic from drinking water, USEPA, Office of
Water, (4606), www.epa.gov/safewater/ars/treatments_and_costs.pdf.
Useful Internet Sites
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/arsenic
www.bgs.ac.uk/arsenic
www.arsenic.eawag.ch
www.eawag.ch/~berg/arsenic/
www.es.ucl.ac.uk/research/lag/as
www.asia-arsenic.net
www.unu.edu/env/arsenic/proceedings.htm
www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic.html
- 28 -
(WHO)
(British Geological Survey)
(EAWAG)
(University College London)
(Asia Arsenic Network)
(UNU)
(US EPA)
APPENDICES
- 29 -
Appendix 1
Proposed leaflet for dissemination of information on the arsenic problem and use of
sand filters
(Version 1, illustrated by Mike Meier and Hoang Anh)
Iron does not pose a health
problem, however, drinking or
cooking of iron-rich water is
undesired for reasons of taste and
appearance.
Arsenic and iron removal from
groundwater
Some tubewells produce water
with a high concentration of iron.
This can be the case if hand
pumps or electrical pumps are
used.
Recommendations to improve the
quality of tubewell water.
The pumped water is "tanh". It
has a bad taste and its colour
turns yellow, red or brown shortly
after pumping.
Unfortunately, iron-rich water from
tubewells often also contains
arsenic, a very poisonous metal.
Arsenic is invisible and tasteless,
but far more dangerous to health
than iron.
Consumption
of
arsenic-rich
water, will lead to symptoms such
as skin pigmentation changes as
well as skin or other forms of
cancer.
page 1
page 2
page 3
Arsenic is a heavy metal and
CANNOT be removed by boiling
water!
holes at the bottom or of a pipe in
the front wall of the sand
container. Place a fine sieve (i.e.,
a piece of cloth) between sand
and outlet.
Fill the upper tank with locally
available sand and pump your
groundwater into the sand filter.
The water flowing from the sand
will be clear and will contain much
less arsenic.
Dug wells and rainwater are two
alternative sources of drinking
water containing no or little
arsenic.
Replace the sand and clean the
walls of the tanks every 1-2
months. Dispose the used sand in
your backyard, on dust roads, in
the river or use it as construction
material. Do not dispose used
sand in your fields or in your
garden.
dug wells
However, if iron is present in the
tubewell water, use of a sand filter
is a simple solution to remove both
iron and arsenic from groundwater.
Construct
two
tanks
using
concrete and bricks. The upper
tank is used as a sand filter and
must have an outlet for the water
to flow into the water storage tank
below. The outlet can consist of
page 4
As sand filters may not work
efficiently with water containing
little iron, try to use other sources
of drinking water.
page 5
rainwater tank
Recommendation: To prevent
infectious diseases, water should
always be boiled before drinking.
page 6
- 30 -
Appendix 2
Proposed leaflet for dissemination of information on the arsenic problem and
use of sand filters
(Version 2, illustrated by Mike Meier and Trang Duyet Thanh)
Arsenic and iron removal from
groundwater
Iron does not pose a health
problem, however, drinking or
cooking of iron-rich water is
undesired for reasons of taste and
appearance.
Unfortunately, iron-rich water from
tubewells often also contains
arsenic, a very poisonous metal.
Arsenic is invisible and tasteless,
but far more dangerous to health
than iron.
Consumption
of
arsenic-rich
water, will lead to symptoms such
as skin pigmentation changes as
well as skin or other forms of
cancer.
Recommendations to improve the
quality of tubewell water.
Some tubewells produce water
with a high concentration of iron.
This can be the case if hand
pumps or electrical pumps are
used.
The pumped water is "tanh". It
has a bad taste and its colour
turns yellow, red or brown shortly
after pumping.
page 1
page 2
page 3
Arsenic is a heavy metal and
CANNOT be removed by boiling
water!
holes at the bottom or of a pipe in
the front wall of the sand
container. Place a fine sieve (i.e.,
a piece of cloth) between sand
and outlet.
Fill the upper tank with locally
available sand and pump your
groundwater into the sand filter.
The water flowing from the sand
will be clear and will contain much
less arsenic.
Dug wells and rainwater are two
alternative sources of drinking
water containing no or little
arsenic.
Replace the sand and clean the
walls of the tanks every 1-2
months. Dispose the used sand in
your backyard, on dust roads, in
the river or use it as construction
material. Do not dispose used
sand in your fields or in your
garden.
dug wells
Construct
two
tanks
using
concrete and bricks. The upper
tank is used as a sand filter and
must have an outlet for the water
to flow into the water storage tank
below. The outlet can consist of
As sand filters may not work
efficiently with water containing
little iron, try to use other sources
of drinking water.
rainwater tank
page 4
page 5
However, if iron is present in the
tubewell water, use of a sand filter
is a simple solution to eliminate
both iron and arsenic from groundwater.
Recommendation: To prevent
infectious diseases, water should
always be boiled before drinking.
page 6
- 31 -
ISBN 3-905484-12-9
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