Current Approaches of Nanotechnology for Potential Drinking Water Purification

Current Approaches of Nanotechnology for Potential Drinking Water Purification

Rohini Singh (Sitarambhai Naranji Patel Institute of Technology and Research Centre, India) and Suman Dutta (Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1241-8.ch014


Uninterrupted supply of adequate and clean drinking water is a fundamental human necessity, and essential to maintain the healthy surroundings. It also influences the development and economic growth, specifically in developing countries. It provides an excellent opportunity for treatment of surface water, groundwater, and wastewater contaminated by toxic metal ions, organic and inorganic solutes, and microorganisms. It facilitates an opportunity to optimize the current conventional techniques and to offer novel and innovative methods of water purification. Various nanomaterials on which purification of contaminated drinking water is based includes nanostructured catalytic membranes, nanosorbents, nanocatalysts, and bioactive nanoparticles. Current and potential applications of nanotechnology in water purification are adsorption, membrane separation processes, photocatalysis, disinfection, and microbial control. This chapter reviews the recent research efforts accomplished in the area of nanotechnology for drinking water purification.
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Affordable and clean drinking water became a major global challenge in 21st century as water is the origin of human civilization. The continuous increase in population, urbanization and industrialization are the main reason for the contamination of water (Qu, Alvarez and Li 2013). Water is an essential factor to sustain life, and an adequate, safe and accessible supply must be available to all. Improving access to safe drinking water can result in tangible benefits to health. Every effort should be made to achieve drinking water that is as safe as practicable. The era of water purification had begun since the first governmental act was passed in 1852 entitled; Metropolis Water Act of 1852 (Pradeep and Anshup 2009). The principal objective of wastewater purification is generally to dispose of human and industrial effluents without affecting human health or causing damage to the natural environment. Water is considered as contaminated if the level of introduced pollutants exceeds a certain permissible limit, making it unsuitable for human consumption. WHO produces international norms on water quality and human health in the form of guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and standard setting, in developing and developed countries worldwide. Table 1 lists some of the major drinking water contaminants and their permissible limits according to WHO guidelines for drinking-water quality (WHO 2011) designed for the protection of public health and the management of the risk from hazards.

Table 1.
Major drinking water contaminants and their permissible limit (WHO 2011)
Major pollutantOriginPermissible
Affected countriesHealth effects
Fluoride- Geological origin, mineral weathering,
coal mining
0.5- 1India, China, Central Africa and South AmericaDental and skeletal fluorosis, Muscle fiber regeneration,
nervous system malfunction
CadmiumFertilizers, impurities in the zinc of galvanized pipes and solders and some metal fittings0.003Kidney damage
SeleniumEarth’s crust0.04gastrointestinal
disturbances, discoloration of the skin, decayed teeth, hair or nail loss
Arsenic- Geological
0.01Bangladesh, India, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, VietnamHigh blood pressure,
Mercury- Industrial
pollution, dental
filling, Food (fish)
0.006Indonesia, China, Africa,Philippines, Japan,Kazakhstan, USA,Brazil,Australia, Taiwankidney damage, respiratory failure,
gastrointestinal failures.
Lead- Old piping lines,
weathering, paint
0.01Egypt, EU, USA, Thailand,
China, Cambodia
Delays in physical/mental
development, Kidney problem, high blood pressure

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