Boise State University Graduate Helping To Make Bleach Accessible In Africa

May 6, 2020

Ann Larson graduated from Boise State University with a chemistry degree in the ‘90s. Now, she’s a chemist in California and also volunteers remotely at an orphanage in Mwanza, Tanzania.


When COVID-19 began to spread in Africa, the port city on Lake Victoria was struggling to find sanitation supplies. So, she started working with the executive director of the non-profit Africompassion, Jerald Malamba, to find a solution. 

If you have the right materials, making bleach is pretty straightforward. 

“It's almost infinite as long as you have the salts and the water and the electrodes, you can do it successfully,” Larson said. 

Malamba also has a science background, so they figured out how to use old car batteries to trigger the chemical reaction needed to create disinfectant. 

Now, Malamba puts on classes demonstrating how to make bleach, while Larson ensures that volunteers stay safe with gloves and proper handling procedures. 

Community members make the disinfectant and then transport it to the surrounding area by foot. They sell most of it and use the rest to help out their own community. 

“They've made these hand sanitation stations with diluted bleach and there's no charge for the community to use this,” said Larson. “People are very excited.”

Larson hopes the growth of the project can help support other areas with similar needs.


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