Lead, Copper and Zinc in River Water in Bolivia

Picture4Customer: Engineers Without Borders

Application: Measuring Heavy Metals in River Water

Description: Engineers Without Borders – USA, University of Minnesota Chapter, is a student group that collaborates with communities worldwide in order to design and implement sustainable engineering projects while gaining leadership and engineering experience. This particular project is with a community of Yulo, Bolivia.

 Problem/ Task: The Juckucha River has been contaminated for centuries from the acidic mine drainage from abandoned mines about 80 km upstream of Yulo. The water is needed for agricultural use. However, the local farmers suspect that the water is unsafe. The metals in the water leach into the ground, and high concentrations of copper, lead, and zinc have been found in the potatoes, and even in blood samples taken from local residents. Engineers Without Borders needed to verify and quantify the claims of high heavy metal concentrations in the water.

ANDalyze Solution: The AND1000 Fluorimeter was used to collect data on the concentrations of Zinc, Copper, and Lead in the Juckucha River. Samples were collected at numerous locations including the river, the irrigation canals, the local taps, the water collection tank, and the drinking water source.

Location Copper (ppb) Lead (ppb) Zinc (ppm)
Spring Source <40 <2.0 2.5
River <40 <2.0 <1.0
Tap <40 <2.0 <1.0
Tank 46 <2.0 <1.0
Irrigation Canal <40 <2.0 <1.0

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Advantages:

  • The ANDalyze solution enabled readings and results in a few minutes at the remote site
  • Easier, less time and lower cost than transporting samples to a laboratory
  • Correlation with lab results was > 95% confidence
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