Chemists Without Borders

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Friday, August 07, 2015

Achievements of Chemists Without Borders Bangladesh Arsenic Education Project

Since September 2014, I have been managing the Chemists Without Borders team in Bangladesh.  We started with a team of part time interns, all graduates of the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh.  We had the objective of seeing whether we could work effectively with high schools to educate the students, and through them, their families about the health hazards of arsenic in drinking water.

Figure 1. Arsenic Education team (from the left): Monira Sultana, Nishat Raihana, Taslima Khanam, Anowara Begum, Shahena Begum.  
We worked with six high schools and found the students to be very interested in our message, with high attendance and lots of questions at our presentations.  Also, at each school, we had many volunteers to make measurements of arsenic concentration at wells near the schools.  Our team trained the students how to make the measurements and gave them the test kits.  As a result, we got arsenic concentration measurements at 20 to 30 wells in the neighborhoods of most of the schools. We found that two of the schools, Sitakunda High School, and Teriail High School, had very high arsenic concentrations (150ppb) at the school wells. This was a surprise result for the students and the teachers at these schools.  They didn’t realize that they had been drinking water contaminated with arsenic.
Figure 2. Skin effects by drinking arsenic contaminated water.
A detailed report on our work during Stage 1 of our project (Sept 2014 through Dec. 2014) can be found on our Indiegogo site. Since January 2015, our work in Bangladesh has been led by Anowara Begum and Shahena Begum, and their priority has been to form partnerships and funding relationships so that the project can be sustainable on a long term basis. They have been joined for two months this summer by Adam Cooper, an American student from Stetson University in Florida.
Accomplishments so far have been:


1. Several Bangladesh Rotary Clubs have agreed to fund the replacement of arsenic contaminated wells at the two high schools discovered in Stage 1 of the project, and this will bring clean water to 4000 people.

2. HOPE Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh has asked our team to investigate wells contaminated with organic matter in their region, which has caused a number of people to become ill.  We will also meet with their director for midwife training to discuss including our arsenic presentation in their midwife training.

3. Agami, a Bay Area organization that supports a number of schools in Bangladesh, has asked us to meet with their team in Dhaka and with teachers at schools in the Chittagong region to discuss our providing an extended course on health education to students in their schools.

4. A prominent newspaper in Bangladesh, Prothom Alo, has published an article on our work in the local language, Bangla.

5. On August 2, our American student, Adam, will be interviewed on a Bangladesh national TV program about Chemists Without Borders and our work in education and health improvement in Bangladesh.

I’d like to invite anyone who has our interest in our work or who might like to support it by volunteering or making a financial contribution to contact me at:

Blogger:
Ray Kronquist
@RayKronquist
ray@kronquist.com

Saturday, April 11, 2015

One person’s half used bar of hotel soap could be another person’s best chance to survive?

On my list of things I could donate that I would consider life saving, I would put blood, organs, bone marrow, even clean water.  Half used bars of hotel soap? That never crossed my mind.  It did to Shawn Seipler, now the CEO of the nonprofit initiative called Clean the World.  According to an article I read, Seipler found that millions of used bars of hotel soap are sent to landfills around the world every day.  This is quite staggering when you think about it.  All that soap gone to waste, while people in developing countries are dying from illnesses that could be avoided, simply by washing their hands.  It is something we take for granted, but can make a big impact in other countries.  After some processing to remove residual bacteria and reform the bars, the soap is ready to go.  Clean the World has since teamed up with Global Soap and has delivered more than 25 million bars to 99 countries.  This is a pretty amazing accomplishment and just goes to show you that the old saying, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”, really is true.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Mussels make superglue?

Nature is so amazing. I heard about this topic on the radio last week and was curious to learn more about it. Even with all the technological advances we have made, humans still pale in comparison to what nature figured out a long time ago.  One such example is the fibers and adhesives that mussels use to attach themselves to objects in the sea.  Their ability to stick to wet surfaces is of particular interest as this may have potential application in medicine for wound closure due to surgery or injury.  This could even include surgeries to unborn babies.  Current chemical adhesives are no match for the salty, wet conditions of the human body. Mussel adhesives are so strong they are able to hold on during waves and storm currents making them a great example to study. Hmm...and here I was just thinking they were a seafood dish.  Check out this article to learn more.