Chemists figure out how to strip 99 percent of BPA from drinking water

BPA
Brian Scantlebury/123RF
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins dating back to the 1960s. Today, it is found in everything from CDs and DVDs to dental fillings and cash register receipts — as well as nefariously making its way into water sources around the world. Unfortunately, certain studies suggest BPA is not exactly harmless. Its usage has been linked it to a range of negative health effects, including increased blood pressure, adverse impact on brain and nervous system development, cardiovascular disease, and more.

After 15 years of hard work, chemists at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Auckland, and Oregon State University have come up with a solution they claim can quickly, cheaply, and effectively remove upward of 99 percent of BPA from water. The cleanup solution involves catalysts called TAML activators, referring to small molecules which mimic oxidizing enzymes. When these are combined with hydrogen peroxide, the TAML activators are able to effectively break down harmful chemicals, including BPA.

The technique can be used to effectively treat large quantities of water in just 30 minutes. According to its creators, tens of thousands of tons of water can be treated with one solitary kilogram of the catalyst.

“[In our paper], we show how TAML and peroxide processes can remove BPA easily and efficiently from water,” Terrence Collins, the Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon, told Digital Trends. “There are two outcomes depending on how much acid is present. At low acid concentrations, the BPA is obliterated. At higher acid concentrations that are typical of environmental waters, the BPA is precipitated by chemistry that sticks BPA molecules together in ways that will not revert to BPA, as with current plastics. In both cases, the removal is effectively quantitative. The BPA elimination chemistry involved is fast and facile: You simply mix traces of catalyst and a little peroxide into the water and the processes takes off quickly.”

Having demonstrated the technique in the lab, Collins now hopes the research can be applied in the real world. “If this chemistry, conducted in pure lab water, transfers to much dirtier real-world situations with similar BPA concentrations, such as landfill leachates and paper recycling streams, then this work could help reduce aquatic contamination by BPA,” he said. “The ball is in the BPA industry’s court.”

A research paper — complete with BPA reviews primarily written by Collins’ postdoc Dr. Matthew DeNardo — was recently published in the journal Green Chemistry.

In all, it is another example of how the work coming out of cutting-edge research labs is helping purify water all around the world in the name of good health.

Emerging Tech

Sick of fruits and veggies going bad? This second skin doubles their life spans

The world has a food spoilage problem. Could Apeel Sciences help with its concept of giving fresh produce a 'second skin' to keep it fresh for up to twice as long? Some big names think so.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

2019 Oscar predictions: Who’s going to win, who should win, and who got snubbed

Will Roma finally give Netflix an Oscar? Can Bohemian Rhapsody translate its awards-season momentum into an Academy Award for Rami Malek? Will Black Panther get blanked? Here are our predictions for the 2019 Oscars.
Smart Home

Researchers are once again trying to science the gluten out of bread

If you've ever found gluten tough to stomach, help may be on the way. Researchers and farmers are exploring solutions that include gene-edited bread, as well as alterations to carbs and fiber.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.
Photography

NASA celebrates Earth’s incredible natural beauty with free photo book

NASA has published a fabulous new book featuring stunning imagery captured by its satellites over the years. A hardback version is available for $53, though it can also be downloaded to ebook readers for free, and enjoyed online.
Deals

This new all-in-one flashlight is a power bank, lighter, and screwdriver

The Pyyros modular flashlight can perform numerous field tasks, from hammering to starting fires. If you back it on Kickstarter now, you can score some savings on this innovative flashlight and multi-tool, but act fast: This early-bird…
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.
Emerging Tech

Baristas beware, Bbox cafe uses robots to brew your morning coffee

Want your morning coffee and pastry prepared by robot? Bbox, a new coffee shop in downtown Berkeley, California, lets customers place their order by app and then uses automation to take care of the rest.
Emerging Tech

This ridiculous new flamethrower makes Elon Musk’s look like a cigarette lighter

The XL18 Flamethrower is a flame-shooting beast on steroids, capable of firing off bursts of flame more than 110 feet in length. The best part? You can order it over the internet today.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX just nailed its most challenging Falcon 9 rocket landing to date

If you've been following the SpaceX launch calendar, you know this week marks the first launch from Cape Canaveral in two months. We have the details on where you can watch the launch live.
Emerging Tech

Touchdown! Japan successfully lands its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on asteroid Ryugu

Japan's space agency has just completed the latest stage of its extraordinarily complex mission, successfully landing its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth.
Emerging Tech

Delivery drones: NASA to test advanced traffic control system for cities

Delivery drone services are edging closer as NASA prepares to demonstrate its advanced drone traffic management system, which it claims offers safe and effective control of autonomous aircraft in urban areas.
Emerging Tech

Kickstarter campaign aims to help make 3D-printed space habitats for Mars

Mars X-House is an ambitious project that's intended to create a prototype future Mars habitat using 3D printing. And, thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign, you can be a part of it.