The Spring 2022 National American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting held in San Diego, California, was a hybrid meeting that featured a wide range of science topics. The offerings showcased the vast diversity of the chemical sciences and the increasingly integrated nature of the projects. This piece focusses on the a filtration device that can detect lead in drinking water.
Inspired by media coverage of the water contamination in Michigan, high school teacher Rebecca Bushway challenged her Advanced Topics in Chemistry class to design and develop a filtration device that would indicate when water was contaminated with lead. Using the displacement reaction between calcium phosphate and lead ions to trap the lead and another reaction between potassium iodide and lead ions as a color indicator, her class designed and developed a 3D-printed water filter that attaches to most water faucets.
In the first reaction, the lead replaces the calcium to form a highly insoluble solid, and when the filter can no longer absorb lead, the semipermeable membrane containing the potassium iodide turns bright yellow. Her team 3D printed the water filter and incorporated physics, engineering, marketing, art, and social justice in this highly interdisciplinary project. According to Bushway, “The device costs less than a $1 to make,” but the experience of helping someone with science is priceless.
News briefing from the meeting
Video media briefing:
Related articles on this topic from ACS Publications
Assembling and Using a Simple, Low-Cost, Vacuum Filtration Apparatus That Operates without Electricity or Running Water
Fengxiu Zhang, Yiwei Hu, Yaling Jia, Yonghua Lu, and Guangxian Zhang
A Portable, Low-Cost, LED Fluorimeter for Middle School, High School, and Undergraduate Chemistry Labs
Benjamin T. Wigton, Balwant S. Chohan, Cole McDonald, Matt Johnson, Doug Schunk, Rod Kreuter, and Dan Sykes
An Environmentally Friendly, Cost-Effective Determination of Lead in Environmental Samples Using Anodic Stripping Voltammetry
Michael J. Goldcamp, Melinda N. Underwood, Joshua L. Cloud, Sean Harshman, and Kevin Ashley
Low-Cost 3D-Printed Polarimeter
Paweł Bernard and James D. Mendez