Researchers from the Energy Safety Research at Swansea University, in collaboration with their colleagues at Rice University, developed a new reusable filters that could remove over 99 percent of Heavy Metal toxins from water.

The new filter, dubbed as “supported-epoxidized carbon nanotube” (SENT), consists of Carbon Nanotubes immobilized in a tuft of quartz fiber.

Carbon nanotube-reinforced filter

During lab tests, the researchers found that the SENT filters can easily absorb over 99 percents of metals in water samples containing cadmium, cobalt, copper, mercury, nickel and lead.

Metal toxins absorbed in the filter can either be extracted to be reused or turn into solid for safe disposal. The filter can then be washed using vinegar for reuse.

Scaled-up version of SENT filters were capable of treating five liters of water in less than one minute and be treated for reuse in 90 seconds. SENT filters could maintain nearly 100 percent of its capacity to filter water up to 70 liters per 100 grams of SENT.

While the quartz fiber provides form and the carbon nanotube sheath makes the filter tough, the secret behind the highly-absorbent quality of the SENT filters lies in the epoxidation via an oxidizing acid.

The researchers estimate that about a gram of SENT filters is capable of treating up to 83,000 liters of contaminated water to meet standards imposed by the World Health Organization.

The dangers of heavy metal toxins

Heavy metal poisoning remains a big problem in the United States. One of the major causes of heavy metal poisoning in the US is lead, which mostly affects children. Other metals associated with heavy metal poisoning in the US include mercury, arsenic and cadmium.

People are more commonly exposed to metal toxins in their work environment.

Old lead-based paints, improperly coated food containers and some medications are also known to cause heavy metal poisoning.

Toxic heavy metals can also linger in air and water. Improper disposal of electronic waste, such as phones, computers and other devices, in landfills could contaminate groundwater. Old plumbing fittings and rusty water pipes could also leak heavy metal toxins into the water.

Sudden exposure to these toxins could cause nausea, vomiting, numbness, confusion or coma. Symptoms of chronic exposure may include constipation, headache, weakness, tiredness, joint pain and muscle pain.