Khairpur student wins prize for using tea to clean wastewater

Published: August 19, 2012
Shadab Rasool Buriro won silver at the GENIUS (Global Environmental Issues-US) Olympiad organised by the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and the Terra Science and Education Foundation. PHOTO: COURTESY SHADAB RASOOL BURIRO

Shadab Rasool Buriro won silver at the GENIUS (Global Environmental Issues-US) Olympiad organised by the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and the Terra Science and Education Foundation. PHOTO: COURTESY SHADAB RASOOL BURIRO


A hot sweet cup of tea will solve most problems. But it appears that more and more research is proving that tea can help clean water for human consumption.

For one, Shadab Rasool Buriro, a tenth grade student of the Pak-Turk International School in Khairpur, won silver at the GENIUS (Global Environmental Issues-US) Olympiad, for his project: The removal of harmful pollutants from industrial waste water by the use of tea waste. He defended it in front of seven impartial judges at the international competition that was jointly organised by the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and the Terra Science and Education Foundation. Buriro collected used tea, washed it with boiled water till it had lost all its colour, and then dried it. He then made mixtures of substances commonly found in industrial waste, like cadmium, lead, nickel and phenol, and then mixed them with the dried tea. “After waiting for 60 minutes, I analysed different filtrates obtained by a spectrophotometer and recorded the concentration of each pollutant separately,” he told The Express Tribune. “The results proved that used tea waste can remove [pollutants].”

Buriro’s project was initially sent to the Pak-Turk School’s head office in Islamabad, from where it was forwarded to the US. “I read about the kinds of pollutants that affect our agriculture sector, and decided to work on this particular project,” he said. “I was not expecting to get any position as other students were so confident and well-prepared.”

The Turkish government has recognised Buriro’s achievement and sponsored him for a 15-day visit to Turkey, where he was officially introduced as the boy who competed against students from 50 countries.

His father, Ghulam Rasool Buriro, is a retired deputy district officer (education), while his mother, Kaneez Panjtan, was the district officer (education) elementary. “My parents encouraged me. They helped me wherever it was possible for them to,” he said.

MPA Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional told Sindh Express at an event to honour Buriro that she would bring it up at the next session and recommend his achievement be acknowledged. Buriro is not the only person to have used this particular method to clean water. In the Journal of International Environmental Application & Science published a paper on how used tea waste helped remove phenol from industrial waste water in Kosovo. In 2010, a group of researchers in South Africa developed a high-tech tea bag filter filled with active carbon molecules that can be fitted on top of a bottle to purify water as it is poured on a cup. Closer to home, chemical engineers at the Mehran University of Engineering and technology, Jamshoro published a paper last year in the Sindh University Research Journal on how they used tea waste to remove arsenic from aqueous solutions. They referenced similar work done by four researchers who published their findings in the Iranian Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering in 2007.

A cursory search with the terms ‘adsorption of heavy metals with tea waste’ on Google Scholar revealed 10 hits per page.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Tabish Bilgrami
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:06AM

    Good going buddy! We are proud of you.


  • huees
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:27AM

    A real genius with whom khairpur should associate his name instead of thefake genius agha waqar whom we saw a couple of days earlier


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:37AM



  • Hasan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:47AM

    Seems everybody on this site is too busy wailing about Pakistan’s woes to acknowledge credit where it’s due.

    This is an awesome, awesome acheivement – praying for a bright future for this boy.



  • pakistani baloch
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:48AM

    weldone ..pakistan zindabad


  • Pakistanii
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:34AM

    Excellent News! is ET is going to write editorial and similar amount of efforts and coverage like they did for Water run car? I guess NO ???


  • Awans
    Aug 19, 2012 - 6:06AM

    Well it hope his work will be unique but I had already seen the paper about this technique 7 years ago back in 2005 written by four researchers of Iran and its title was **”Teawaste as An Adsorbent for Heavy Metal Removal from Industrial Wastewaters”** and this research have striking similarity with the work of above guy.

    Kindly take a look at that research as well.

  • Kia
    Aug 19, 2012 - 7:03AM

    Keep it up Young fellow…Our nation is proud of ya..!!!


  • Syed Awais Shah
    Aug 19, 2012 - 8:19AM

    Khairpur is emerging as the futue Tech hub of Pakistan. I recommend him to go for a ”Tea Kit”.


  • indian
    Aug 19, 2012 - 9:38AM

    Congratulations ! Media should give more exposure to such heroes.Pakistan should take inspiration from Shadab Rasool Buriro instead of the fanatics.

    Its a tragedy that despite 21 facebook likes and 27 tweets there are no comments by ordinary Pakistani civilians.Heavy metals are very harmful causing a whole range of illnesses from cancer to poisoning to brain damage.


  • sidjeen
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:02AM

    one of the very few stories that bring pride to our country, great job son.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 10:21AM

    A British Pakistani has also been recognized with $60,000 award on Aug 14 from Bill Gates for reinventing the toilet to improve sanitation in developing countries.


  • aslam
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:27AM

    Mashallah, May allah bless him with more success. Ameen.


  • Ahmed
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:28AM

    10 hits per page???? its google’s default setting


  • Raj Kafir
    Aug 19, 2012 - 10:56AM

    We use Chah Patti for growth of in door Money Plants in India. It helps.


  • Pakistanii
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:50PM

    @indian Seems like your quota of 5 text msgs/day and 5 comments per day in India has been exausted thats why you are here to give your stupid sensleses comments which make no sense to any one.


  • Rizwan
    Aug 19, 2012 - 12:55PM

    Used Tea Leaf is also beneficial for rose plants.


  • Mariam
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:29PM

    Welldone,proud of you :-)


  • Gogi Machhera
    Aug 19, 2012 - 3:52PM

    First an engineer from Khairpur DISCOVERED that hydrogen can be produced from electrolysis of water and can be used to run cars. Now a student from the same city DISCOVERED that tea can be used to filter toxins from industrial waste, a technique ALREADY DISCUSSED in dozens of texts and industrial literature. Is that something inherently wrong with us?


  • Pinky
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:01PM

    so proud of you, bro :D keep it up!


  • G. Din
    Aug 19, 2012 - 4:05PM

    Which part of indian’s comment set you off? I read and reread his comment and found it to be innocuous.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Aug 19, 2012 - 5:41PM

    Pakistan is full of talented people, but the main problem is that brilliant students and people are seldom given a chance to prove their worth.

    I am sure that if in 1969 Pakistan would have had technology, some Pakistan astronaut would would have been the first Pakistani to land at moon instead of American.

    Pakistan is a fertile land and Al-Mighty Allah has given us every thing which one country can be proud of, but due to foreign countries intervention, Pakistan was stopped long time back to drill oil and was not been provided assistance in producing electricity from coal.

    The political leaders of Pakistan are completely sold out at the hands of foreign countries and have never explored the potential either of the country itself or the people.

    The day Pakistan and Pakistani will come out from the clutches of the foreign powers, it will become a country which instead of taking loans from IMF or the World Bank, it could give loan to poor countries.

    Instead of yelling for democracy or dictatorship, what we need is to form an umbrella/shield of some good people who can take Pakistan into 21st century.


  • Aug 19, 2012 - 7:52PM

    now this looks like a proper project .. its appaling to see some one so young researching at this level , our engineering universities should learn from this .. tough i am skeptic this may be a marketting scheme with someone else giving away his project for school and child promotion…
    all said and done , nice attempt .. and good idea


  • A
    Aug 19, 2012 - 8:03PM



  • AIN
    Aug 20, 2012 - 2:31AM

    applause….please share technical details of his venture..


  • Dr. sabit ali Pitafi
    Aug 20, 2012 - 3:09AM

    Dear brother Buriro Sahib. Life gave you a good chances to go and stay at USA. Go and start your work/carrier at USA if possible. Do not stay at Pakistan. go go go.


  • Giri
    Aug 20, 2012 - 6:52AM

    @Pakistanii thinks @indian is a troll because he thinks only Heavy metals can cause brain damage. @Pakistanii thinks there was other things that cause brain damage, you just have to read how 11-year old girl is victimised for burning Quran.


  • Haroon
    Aug 20, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Well done lad :)


  • Dr-Babu
    Aug 20, 2012 - 1:50PM

    What other proof you need that talent is not available in Pakistan, now it the turn of the authorities to turn that talent loose in public. Cut down those constricting rules, make education available to all, encourage new entrepreneurs and see how Pakistan will blossom.


  • G. Din
    Aug 21, 2012 - 12:06AM

    “What other proof you need that talent is not available in Pakistan, “
    And then:
    ” Cut down those constricting rules, make education available to all, encourage new entrepreneurs and see how Pakistan will blossom.”
    What good would doing all those things do if “talent is not available in Pakistan”.


  • Hasan
    Aug 21, 2012 - 1:13AM


    LOL…looks as though we have a jealous Hindustani trying to do some flaming. Don’t worry – you guys can add this to your list of ‘indigenous’ projects to work on…let us know how you’re getting on in 2042.




  • Asad Ali Daudpota
    Aug 21, 2012 - 4:30AM

    Shadab shabaash! The entire nation’s wishes and prayers are with you. Very well done my boy! May Allah bless you!
    All the best!


  • Tehseen Tariq
    Aug 22, 2012 - 2:06PM


  • Zuhaib Ahmed
    Aug 24, 2012 - 9:58AM

    Bravo Shadab, we are so proud of you … a big APPLAUSE for your remarkable work!!!


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