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Cheap water Irradiation

One mans meat is another mans poison!
  [vote for,

A big problem in the third world is clean drinking water. A big problem in the first world is high level radioactive waste. Perhaps the one problem can be used to solve the other! I propose that local peoples construct massive stone and lead monoliths adjacent to their source of tainted drinking water. First world nations will slip in by night and install radioactive substances within the monolith. Each monolith has a chamber which contains water that basks in the glow of the radiation. When the locals withdraw water from the tap on the monolith, it will be irradiated-clean! There will need to be a tradition that only water from the monolith is good. Perhaps there can be a hole in which to pour water from the source, and another area from which to remove it.

And I had better not read one single anno about radioactive water.

bungston, Jul 23 2004

Ultraviolet Water Treatment http://www.triangularwave.com/f3.htm
[jurist, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Nuclear waste disposal http://www.history....ter.edu/class/EZRA/
the first article [dentworth, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Food irradiation http://www.cdc.gov/...foodirradiation.htm
Used ionizing radiation, not UV [bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       but what about radioactive water?
xclamp, Jul 23 2004

       but what about radioactive water? Yes, I'm serious. You may kill the bacteria, but the impurities will still be there, only now they'll be contaminated with radiation. Sure, you may curb disease for a few years, but what happens when people's jaws start falling off?   

Freefall, Jul 23 2004

       Lead, etc. will be unaffected by this treatment. Bacteria and protozoans will be destroyed, along with their spores given enough radiation. This means that the water will improve somewhat. It should be easy enough to allow only gamma radiation to reach the water, resulting in non-radioactive water.   

       I feel compelled to point out, however, that third world peoples are not the monkeys from the beginning of 2001(a space odessey). They may not be as well educated as you are (or they may be, a lack of clean water is not the same as ignorance), but that does not mean they don't understand the concept of technology making water safe to drink.
GutPunchLullabies, Jul 23 2004

       I wonder how you'll put waste in these monoliths and get any glow value out of it, especially if the walls of the monolith are constructed of lead. Call me confused...
dentworth, Jul 23 2004

       Gentle bakers: I worry that if the true nature of the monoliths were divulged, someone would dig the radioactive stuff out and use it for nefarious purposes. Perhaps this would be better suited for an episode of Stargate.   

       Radiating things does not make for radioactive things.   

       Water used to cool the plant does not become radioactive. In fact the manatees and crocodiles love to come play in it. Seriously!   

       We would use high level radioactive waste for this - spent rods etc.
bungston, Jul 23 2004

       // Radiating things does not make for radioactive things. //   

       Um, not quite true. I will grant you that the majority of common substances, when irradiated, do not then become radioactive. But some non-radioactive substances do become radioactive as the result of being irradiated. What if the water to be treated contains one of these substances? You get nice cool glass of mildly radioactive beverage. Yummy.   

       Also note that exposure to radiation deals effectively only with biological contamination. Chemical impurities are largely unaffected. At best, the radiation could only be one small step in a comprehensive system designed to treat all aspects of contamination.
BigBrother, Jul 23 2004

       Radioactive water used to be considered a health drink 'til they figured out it wasn't. The water bottlers used to tout their brands as being the most radioactive.
bristolz, Jul 23 2004

       Most of the trouble with impure water is related to diarrheal illness, caused by microbes.
bungston, Jul 24 2004

       I'm wondering if [bungston] is confusing irradiated water with water which has been treated with ultraviolet light.[link]
jurist, Jul 24 2004

       editing my comments, made in ignorance. see link
dentworth, Jul 24 2004

       [bungston]:You keep forgetting to add or copy the "http://" to your links. You did the same on the popcorn bars idea.
jurist, Jul 24 2004

       Uv is used to treat water. Ionizing radiation (mostly gamma rays, I think) is used for food irradiation. UV is probably sufficient for water treatment, and ionizing radiation would be overkill. However, nuclear waste emits ionizing radiation and thats what we're trying to find a use for.   

       It occurs to me that this actually might be more workable in the first world, were in not for the abundance of nukeophobes. The radiation could be applied in a controlled manner and there would be less worries about misuse/contamination than there would be at some remote monolith. Drinking water could be routed through a long coil of pipes wrapping around the waste, where it would get a hefty dose of radiation. Microbiological contamination is an issue here as well - witness the cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee about 15 years ago.   

       Even better - this process could be used for cheap wastewater treatment. Some water-strapped areas are now using treated wastewater for landscape irrigation. This could be made safer by irradiation - less worry that human pathogens from feces would get deposited by the roadside.
bungston, Jul 24 2004

       How to prevent misuse for "nefarious purposes": Put a big, obvious, unlocked door on it that says "Do not open!" in a hundred languages. When the door is opened, the opener is exposed so several hundred million rads per second.
GutPunchLullabies, Jul 26 2004


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