When Katya Cherukumilli, PhD, finished her research on the impact of toxic fluoride levels on drinking water in developing countries, she didn’t just want to publish her findings — she wanted to use them to help people around the world. Leveraging her environmental engineering background, she developed the now-patented Scalable and Affordable Fluoride Removal (SAFR) process to purify water with dangerous levels of fluoride. Now, she’s implementing this approach across the globe through a non-profit organization she started in 2017 called Global Water Labs.
“High levels of fluoride occur naturally in water sources around the world — and though low levels of fluoride in water are good, high levels can cause crippling bone deformities, dental problems and more,” Dr. Cherukumilli says. “At Global Water Labs, our mission is to provide clean drinking water in resource-constrained regions through technological innovation.”
In 2018, Dr. Cherukumilli came to the University of Washington to conduct her postdoctoral research on scaling and transferring low-cost drinking water treatment technologies. She’s already helping communities in Tanzania, India and Kenya improve their water quality, and is working with CoMotion to expand Global Water Labs even more.