Research Nugget

Eco-friendly and Affordable Solution to the Water Crisis

South Africa is facing a serious crisis due to water scarcity. However, there are solutions available that address this issue and ensure that the country is able to maintain a more secure water future. One such solution is to use sustainable groundwater as the primary water source in areas where it is available. However, it is important to note that groundwater can be contaminated by naturally occurring chemicals, such as fluoride, which can harm human health.

Fluoride is often added to public water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. However, excess fluoride in water can harm human health and contribute to the World’s water crisis. This issue affects millions of people worldwide, particularly those in highly populated countries such as China and India, as well as East Africa.

Given the need for the development of affordable, eco-friendly techniques and materials for the removal of fluoride from drinking water, the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded a research study to find such a technique.

The researchers found that a bone char (a porous, black, granular material produced by charring animal bones) made from bovine, swine, and equine bone to be the most viable, cost-effective, and sustainable material for the treatment of potable water containing a high fluoride content, especially in developing nations.

The research results show that :

  1. Fluoride is a significant contributor to the global water crisis.
  2. Bone char has proven advantageous for fluoride removal.
  3. Bone char derived from the bones of wild animals is more efficient than that obtained from domestic or semi-wild animals that were given antibiotics to promote their growth.
  4. Further investigation is needed on bone char from wild animals and from domestic and semi-wild animals treated with antibiotics.
  5. Cheaper and simpler packaging methods are essential to make bone char more accessible and practical for domestic use.

Link to the full research article: