In developing areas such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and West Bengal, India, village water wells often contain the poisonous element arsenic. In Bangladesh alone, more than 18 million people daily drink arsenic-contaminated water.
For Bangladesh native Abul Hussam, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Mason for more than 20 years, this threat hit close to home. After years of research and testing, Hussam and his brothers developed the SONO filter, which costs only $35 and lasts at least five years. Simple, inexpensive, and made with easily available materials, the filter won the National Academy of Engineering’s 2007 Grainger Prize of $1 million dollars. As of November 2010, more than 225,000 of these filters can be found in homes, schools, and businesses in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.