Hazardous chemicals impact drinking water in historically marginalized communities around the world.
The WaSH-Toxics Working Group is advancing innovative, affordable, and sustainable technologies to control toxic chemicals and supply safe water to resource constrained and developing communities.
The Challenge: Provide Biologically and Chemically Safe Drinking Water
Communities around the world are exposed to hazardous chemicals such as pesticides, pharmaceutical residues, industrial and mining effluents, and waste breakdown products in their drinking water.
So far, the WaSH sector has focused on microbiological threats to human health, but has neglected exposures to toxic organic chemicals and heavy metals.
Affordable, accessible, and sustainable technologies for controlling toxic chemicals along with microbial pathogens in drinking water are urgently needed!
Sustainable Development Goals Call for Curbing Toxic Chemicals
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight the threat to community health from environmental and drinking water exposure to toxic synthetic chemicals.
- SDG 3.9 “reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination…”
- SDG 6.3 “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials…”
- SDG 12.4 “achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle…and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment…”
One of society’s Grand Challenges for the 21st Century will be discovering and implementing methods for reducing environmental and public health harms from exposure to toxic chemicals.
WaSH-Toxics Working Group
Toxic Chemicals are the Blind Spot of current “Safe Water” Initiatives.
While microbial pathogens are a prevalent and acute threat to drinking water safety, most chemical toxins are overlooked in the global WaSH development sector.
Therefore, objectives of the WaSH-Toxics Working Group include:
- Raise the problem of hazardous chemical contaminants to prominence in the global WASH sector
- Stimulate targeted innovation of affordable treatment technologies, along with evaluation of existing pathogen-reducing drinking water interventions for potential chemical removal
- Generate feedback from experts regarding technical merit and real-world applicability of proposed solutions in an iterative design process
- Elicit commitment to support research, field testing, deployment, and scale-up of toxic chemical control technologies from major WaSH agencies
- Provide a forum for networking and collaboration among an interdisciplinary cohort of scholars and practitioners to drive progressive awareness and innovation on the topic of Toxics-in-WaSH
Who should get involved?
Environmental toxicology and health experts, environmental engineers and scientists, water treatment specialists, researchers, development agency program officers, and WaSH practitioners working in the academic, government, non-profit, I/NGO, and private sectors.