North Charleston high school student working to make drinking water safer

North Charleston high school student working to make drinking water safer

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -A North Charleston high school student is working to make drinking water safer. In fact, he has come up with a way to provide clean water for his parents’ hometown in Bangladesh.

Last summer, Ishraq Haque, a sophomore at Academic Magnet High School, went on a trip to Bangladesh. In his parents’ hometown, he saw, firsthand, a problem the country is facing.

“I saw how dozens of people in my dad’s local village are drinking arsenic-contaminated water – which as a result could lead to illness such as cancer, skin darkening, skin lesions and more,” Haque says.

His project is titled “A Novel Approach to Removing Arsenic from Drinking Water for Low-Income Populations in Rural Villages.” It highlights a household water purification system he developed.

“After doing some preliminary research I found that laterite soil can filter out arsenic from drinking water,” Ishraq says. “From there, working with some local villagers, I mapped out my ideas and slowly built it together.”

His system is currently being used in several homes in a town in Bangladesh.

Haque says it wasn’t just about making the water drinkable, it was also about making the process affordable.

“I saw in my dad’s village that many people are poor,” Haque says. “One of the big factors in my project was the economic thing and to make it as cheap as possible.”

Ishraq says, however, he did run into a few obstacles.

“The lowest I could get was about 25 parts per billion (ppb),” Ishraq says. “That didn’t meet the threshold which is 10 ppb for arsenic in drinking water. That was kind of a struggle for me. I was doubting myself. When I consider, however, the threshold for safe water in Bangladesh is 50 ppb – I realized this could be good for Bangladesh.”

His project won first place at the South Carolina Department of Defense Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Columbia last month.

The Academic Magnet High School Science Club. (Source: Michal Higdon)
The Academic Magnet High School Science Club. (Source: Michal Higdon)

He earned a $2,000 scholarship and a trip to New Mexico for the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in April.

“Anything that our students can do that gets a leg up on world problems, whether they are health related, economically related or societally related, is the real essence of what it means to be a student here,” Catherine Spencer, the Principal at Academic Magnet High School, says.

Ishraq says he is a little nervous to compete nationally but says it feels good to reach this point.

“I’m excited to go out into the national field and further showcase my work,” Ishraq says. “I’m also excited to see some of the smartest kids in the nation.”

Ishraq says he doesn’t want to stop there. His ultimate goal is to meet the clean drinking water threshold of the World Health Organization.

“I’ve been talking to some local and recognized experts on how to improve my project.”

Haque will be one of 230 students from around the world competing for additional scholarship money at the event April 24-27, 2019 in New Mexico.

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