Ending Arsenic Poisoning for Marginalized People via Safe Drinking Water

University of California - Berkeley

Scaling up DIL's proven, affordable, arsenic-removal technology for drinking water will serve 4-5 million people and demonstrate a viable business model to end arsenic poisoning globally.

Last Updated: May 2023
Competition Participation
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Water access, sanitation and hygiene
  • India
  • Bangladesh
  • Nigeria
  • California, United States of America
  • Children & Youth (0-18 yrs.)
  • Economically disadvantaged people
  • People in rural areas
  • Women and girls (all ages)
  • 3. Good health and well-being
  • 6. Clean water and sanitation
  • 11. Sustainable cities and communities

Executive Summary

Two hundred million historically marginalized people worldwide have no choice but to drink water containing toxic levels of arsenic. Chronic arsenic poisoning has no cure. Consequences include painful disabilities, internal cancers, and death. UC-Berkeley's Development Impact Lab invented and successfully deployed a robust arsenic-removal technology—ElectroChemical Arsenic Remediation, “ECAR”—to provide poor rural communities with safe, affordable drinking water. ECAR is inexpensive and designed to work even under harsh conditions. It allows water to be purified locally in marginalized communities and sold at affordable prices while creating local employment and generating sufficient revenue for sustainable operation and further expansion. With additional funding, we will build 1,004 plants in India, the U.S., and Nigeria to provide safe drinking water to 4-5 million people. Our scale-up will demonstrate the financial viability and community engagement needed to cross the adoption tipping point, ending what the World Health Organization has called “the largest mass poisoning in recorded history.”

Organization Details
Lead Organization

University of California - Berkeley

website: https://www.berkeley.edu/
Organization ID
Number of Full-time Employees
> 1,000
Annual Operating Budget
> $1 Billion

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity

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DIL's greatest successes over the past year have been transferring the ECAR technology to the Philippines and achieving a technological advance that makes ECAR applicable in Central California. Also, our demonstration plant in India continues successful operation. 

In transferring ECAR technology to academic researchers in the Philippines, we helped them build a small ECAR plant with locally sourced materials. Their successful field demonstration in Spring 2021 will initiate further technology adoption, enabling access to arsenic-safe water for affected communities in the Philippines. 

We further innovated ECAR into a more advanced version, ACAIE, which can provide robust and low-cost arsenic remediation even in the United States, where we need high throughput of clean water within a compact footprint and remote monitoring. We will field-test the first-ever ACAIE system in Allensworth, CA with 600 liters per hour flow, during the summer of 2021.

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