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Dyeing to save the aquatic environment
Posted by Corbridge Middle School, United Kingdom on 21 June 2018

We are a Year 7 team within the Water Explorer group. We decided to use science to try and protect water resources. We were particularly interested in how much water was needed to rinse potentially harmful dyes from samples of material and if we could remove excess dyes using carbon filled bags. The project was a real challenge - but we are very happy with the results. 

Removal of dyes from water by activated carbon has been done before on industrial scale – unfortunately because it is expensive it is not done all the time, especially in countries like India. Protecting water, which is essential to life, should be far more important than what colours our clothes are.

On a smaller scale, we suggest that companies like Dylon who sell hand washing dyes include a ‘carbon tea bag’ that can be used to soak up residual dyes before the waste water is poured down the drain. There are two advantages to this:

  1. Less clean water will be used in the rinsing process.
  2. Less potentially toxic dyes will be poured down the drain which could pollute our environment.

PS - when the photo was taken we were on a dress-down day for charity - science in onesies is the way forward!


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Use Water Explorer Challenges as a basis for a CREST Bronze Award. To get the Award, you’ll need to spend at least 10 hours on your project. Find out more about CREST Bronze Award here.

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