New Waves January 2011

Breaking news about water resources research and education in Texas

TWRI grant recipient studies arsenic remediation in groundwater

By Melanie Orth

Thomas Abia, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A&M University, worked with his advising professor Dr. Yongheng Huang to evaluate the in situ placement of iron oxides onto sand matrices to remove arsenic from groundwater.

Abia received a 2009-10 Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) research grant. With the $5,000 grant, Abia developed and optimized the iron coating of sand under submerged conditions to stimulate an aquifer environment. Final results of the study showed that the in situ technique could be repeated multiple times, allowing for extended arsenic remediation in groundwater.

Groundwater arsenic pollution is a major public health concern, especially within some rural communities that use groundwater wells. Arsenic pollution has been linked to gangrene and a variety of cancers, making it one of the highest priorities for remediation, Abia said.

“The research is intended to demonstrate a safe, inexpensive and sustainable method for producing drinking water from arsenic-laden water,” Abia said.

After Abia completes his doctorate, he would like to pursue a research scientist position in emergency response impaired water remediation. He said he would like to research mobile oil-water separation technology, hazardous chemical spill remediation and disaster relief water production. He also intends to research water desalination.

This project was funded by TWRI through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as part of the National Institutes for Water Research annual research program. TWRI is the designated institute for water resources research in Texas.

For more information on Abia’s research and to read his final report, visit the TWRI USGS Research Grants webpage. 

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