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January 7th, 2008
In being one of the largest pesticide producers in Asia, India has made some mark in controlling pests, but in return has ruined its water resources. Even though nationwide data does not exist, isolated studies have started showing how groundwater and river systems are contaminated with pesticide residues, not removable by standard water filters.
Now, a team of researchers from IIT-Madras has developed nanoparticles that can eliminate one of the most difficult-to-remove class of chemicals in pesticides called organochlorine. Almost every organochlorine studied has been seen to cause some environmental or human health hazard and includes notorious pesticides like DDT, endosulfan, dioxin, HCH (hexachlorocyclohexane) and aldrin.
"Even though some of these pesticides have been banned, they are very much present in the environment. For instance, endosulfan has an environmental lifetime of 100 years," says T. Pradeep, professor of chemistry at IIT Madras. His nanoparticles, mostly from gold, silver, copper and several oxides, are effective on endosulfan even at very low concentration. "Efficient chemistry at low concentration is important so that even if one molecule of the pesticide passes by, it gets removed by the nanoparticle," adds Pradeep.
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