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Chemists Without Borders

Active and Recent Projects

Chemists Without Borders is a collaborative organization producing sustainable results for important field problems by finding appropriate solutions and developing partners to assist in the delivery of those solutions. We seek to be catalysts for our partners, constituents, and suppliers, to achieve better our common humanitarian and social goals.

Clean Water Initiatives

Arsenic Education in Bangladesh Project

Hundreds of millions of people around the world lack safe drinking water. One of the best-known problems is the arsenic contamination of drinking water in the area of the Ganges River delta. Helping to solve this problem affecting millions of people is one of the first that we tackled.  The Arsenic Public Education Project in Bangladesh identifies local high schools in arsenic-affected areas in Bangladesh and delivers arsenic test kits and training to them directly. This opportunity is leading to greater awareness in the younger community in Bangladesh of the problems of arsenic and how to address them. By educating the students, we aim to educate the population at large in Bangladesh about the dangers of arsenic and about the available solutions.

We are collaborating with UNICEF to develop and scale an arsenic education project which involves providing high schools in Bangladesh with an arsenic test kit and instructions, translated into Bengali, on how to use the filter and the kit. The testing protocol has been developed, validated and then translated by Chemists Without Borders volunteers in the United States.   Currently, we are looking to scale up this project to reach 20 schools in Bangladesh and to provide new, safer wells for four schools with the highest arsenic concentrations in their wells.  We currently are looking for funds to continue and scale up this project.  Please see here and here and the section in our recent newsletter here.  For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chemical Education Initiatives

Chemists Without Borders agrees with John Warner and Beyond Benign: "all chemistry should be green". We have several members interested in developing “Green Chemistry” and advanced chemistry resource web pages. 

Chemistry Education Team (Sierra Leone)

Sierra Leone faces challenges that are incomprehensible to most persons living in developed countries; the electricity is unreliable in the capital city and non-existent in the villages. More pertinent, the classrooms have very little in terms of equipment and supplies. Although students are required to purchase their textbooks, many cannot afford to do so and therefore students copy notes from the chalkboard, and imagine and draw their chemistry experiments. A World Bank report notes that “Sierra Leone has lower levels of enrollment in secondary school than many other impoverished nations. Only 10% of school boys and 4% of school girls passed the West Africa Senior School Certificate Exam (i.e. earned a “pass” in four subject areas of which chemistry is one choice) in the remote eastern border district of Kailahun, one of the areas that was hardest hit by Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war.”

Based on a request for help from Khadarlis for Sierra Leone which was established in 2007 to assist vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone, Chemists Without Borders is working to provide chem-lab-in-a-baggie kits, lab exercises and teacher training (referred to as “Lois Labs”) to senior secondary school teachers in Sierra Leone. The kits will include low cost supplies that could be used world-wide in classrooms or in distance learning scenarios. The RADMASTE kit developed with UNESCO funds is an example of what we seek to emulate. However, even the RADMASTE kit labs used heavy metal salts and are moderately expensive. Our kits will use fewer toxic and hazardous chemicals, as there is no organized waste disposal in Sierra Leone. It is our express desire to put lab materials in classrooms that have none. We anticipate that this will result in improvements in some test scores and more student interest in chemistry generally.  We plan to have a prototype kit ready in the summer of 2015.  This project needs funding and volunteers for implementation.  For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Safe Pharmaceuticals in Africa

The Paper Analytical Device Project (PAD) project seeks to develop low-cost tests to determine the potency of drugs purchased in Africa.  We are currently looking for volunteers with extensive industrial analytical chemistry skills.  See here for more details.