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University of Pittsburgh
George Mason University|
Case Western Reserve University
Abul Hussam is the inventor of the Sono arsenic filter. He is a chemistry Professor at George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia and a member of advisory board at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.
Life and career
Dr. Abul Hussam was born in Kushtia, and raised in Bangladesh, Hussam moved to the United States in 1978 for graduate studies. Later he received a doctorate in analytical chemistry and became a naturalised citizen of USA. The Centreville, Virginia resident has spent much of this career trying to devise a solution to the problem of arsenic contamination of groundwater in Eastern India and Bangladesh.
Hussam started working on this problem since 1993. His final innovation is a simple, maintenance-free system that uses sand, charcoal, bits of brick and shards of a type of cast iron. The filter removes almost every trace of arsenic from well water. The wells brought fresh groundwater to farmers and others who previously had been drinking from bacteria- and virus-laced ponds and mudholes.
He also had to devise a way to find an accurate way to measure arsenic in water. This was achieved in the early to the mid 90's.
The National Academy of Engineering announced on 1 February 2007 that the 2007 Grainger challenge Prize for Sustainability would go to Hussam. Hussam's invention is already in use today, preventing serious health problems in residents of the professor's native Bangladesh. This includes a $1 million engineering prize – and Hussam plans to use most of the money to distribute the filters to needy communities around the world.
Hussam said he plans to use 70 percent of his prize so the filters can be distributed to needy communities. He said 25 percent will be used for more research, and 5 percent will be donated to GMU.
The 2007 sustainability prize is funded by the Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois, and the contest was set up to target the arsenic problem. Among the criteria for winning was an affordable, reliable and environmentally friendly solution to the arsenic problem that did not require electricity.
His younger brothers are Dr. Abul Barkat (economist) and Dr. AKM Munir.
- BSc (Honours)in Chemistry, University of Dhaka, 1975
- MSc in Chemistry, University of Dhaka, 1976
- PhD in Analytical Chemistry from University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1982.
- Director, Center for Clean Water and Sustainable Technologies, George Mason University
- Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, George Mason University
- Visiting research scholar at Georgetown University and at Case Western Reserve University.
Professor Hussam has published and presented over 100 scientific papers in international journals, proceedings, and books.
Honors and awards
- Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) by University of Dhaka in 2009.
- Professor Hussam was awarded one of the highest engineering prizes known as the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability from the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for the SONO arsenic filter which is now used by thousands of people in the affected areas of Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.
- He was recognised by the TIME Magazine, Global Heroes of the Environment 2007 Award
- The Outstanding American by Choice Award by US Citizenship and Immigrations Services in 2008
- Distinguished Alumni Award for "creativity, leadership, and accomplishments" by the Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh
- His present research on the measurement of trace arsenic, aquatic chemistry of arsenic in groundwater, and the development of a simple arsenic filters has been recognised through international publications and accolades. His work is now described in chemistry and engineering text books and cited as one of the most significant contributions in water purification technologies.
- The Mason Gazette, Hussam at Work to Curb Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine., 16 June 1999.
- Professor Wins $1 Million Prize for Providing Clean Water, One Village at a Time, Associated Press, 2/3/07.
- National Academies Press Release, accessed 5 February 2007.