Gitanjali Rao, an American teenager, was shocked by the problem of lead contamination in water. She invented a simple lead detection solution for users.
Gitanjali is 15 years old and has a big goal: to create global change by launching a teenage innovation movement. This young scientist has already gained a lot of recognition in the research and media world. She has developed Tethys, a tool for early lead detection. In 2014, she focused on the Flint, Michigan lead contamination case. « I was alarmed by the impact the problem was having on the health of the community and the daily lives of the residents. I could not believe that children of my age were affected daily because they use water from their water services. Not just in US, in countries like India over 50% of children, in some cities showed elevated lead levels. Lead has significant health effects that range from neurological damage to even eventual death. The problem becomes worse in children whose system is fragile and lead starts to replace critical chemicals like calcium in the body, which are required for a body to grow strong ». It is estimated that more than 5,000 water distribution systems and over 10 million service lines in the US alone have lead contamination problems.
A simple and inexpensive solution
The accurate detection of lead in water is an expensive and time-consuming process. Gitanjali says she needs a device that is portable, accurate, inexpensive and fast. So she decided to create one! The first successful tests of this invention based on the latest developments in carbon nanotube sensor technology enabled her to raise over $50,000 to further develop the device. His process has been made freely available so that students can also look for solutions for earlier detection of contamination. Resources have been shared with universities in Brazil, India and the USA.
Gitanjali is using this project to raise awareness about lead contamination around the world. And she needs support to develop it!
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