International Journal of Environmental Research

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 175–184 | Cite as

Removal of Fluoride Ions in Stored Drinking Water by Triethylamine Chemically Modified Polyethylene Containers

  • Isaac MwangiEmail author
  • Gerald Mbugua
  • Ruth Wanjau
  • Swaleh Sauda
  • Titus Msagati
  • Jane Catherine Ngila
Research Paper


This paper reports the removal of fluoride ions in stored drinking water by a container made from chemically modified polyethylene material. To anchor triethylamine within the structure of the polyethylene material and improve its value, the polyethylene was first heated to melting. To the molten material, hot vegetable oil was added slowly with continuous heating followed by a strongly basic hydrogen peroxide solution and then activated with triethylamine to produce a water-insoluble material that is not a threat to life. The resulting synthesized products were characterized using FTIR and 13C NMR after each step. The triethylamine-activated epoxy material was molded into a 1 l container which was cured for 3 h in an electric oven at 150 °C to form a hard mechanically strong container. It was then used for water storage and removal of dissolved fluoride ions. Its ability to remove fluoride ions was based on complexation reaction between the fluoride ions and quaternary ammonium compounds. The results obtained showed that sorption was best at pH values between 6.0 and 8.0. It was observed that a 40% removal efficiency was achieved from a solution containing 12.5 mg l−1 of fluoride ions in less than 7 days of storage at the physiological pH of water. The existence of sulfate and nitrate ions had no observed significant effect on the fluoride removal process. However, chloride ions affected the removal of the fluoride ions and were therefore used to regenerate the container for reuse. The modification process is a sustainable method to manage the polyethylene pollution menace. This study revealed that the container has a potential application for the remediation of fluoride-laden waters in the rural areas during the water storage process to make it safe for domestic consumption.

Article Highlights

  • Triethylamine chemically modified polyethylene containers have shown to have the potential of removing fluoride ions from the stored water.

  • A 40% removal efficiency was achieved from a solution containing 12.5 mg l−1 of fluoride ions in less than 7 days.

  • The removal mechanism was chemisorption.


Polyethylene Fluoride Remediation Regeneration Quaternary ammonium compounds 



The authors wish to acknowledge “Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales”, Spain, for NMR sample analysis, Dr Waveney Olembo of Kenyatta University, Literature in English Department for improving the English, being a native speaker, and the staff of Water Resources laboratories.


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Copyright information

© University of Tehran 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isaac Mwangi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gerald Mbugua
    • 1
  • Ruth Wanjau
    • 1
  • Swaleh Sauda
    • 1
  • Titus Msagati
    • 3
  • Jane Catherine Ngila
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryKenyatta UniversityNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Department of Applied ChemistryUniversity of Johannesburg, Doornfontein CampusDoornfonteinSouth Africa
  3. 3.University of South Africa-College of Science Engineering and Technology, The Science CampusFloridaSouth Africa

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