Given all the news recently about possible environmental regulation of nanotechnology, the potential benefits of these new discoveries sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.  However, Rice University reported on November 16, 2006 that nanotechnology research shows promise in removing arsenic from drinking water.  Recent experiments conducted by the Center for Biological and Environmental Technology at Rice University resulted in arsenic removal from drinking water through the use of nano-sized rust particles.  The experiments are significant in that arsenic removal technology, as it currently exists, is both expensive and complicated because it uses high pressure pumps and needs electricity.  Researchers at Rice discovered that "nanorust," iron oxide particles, could be removed from water in the presence of a weak magnetic field.  In some instances, small, handheld magnets were enough to create the necessary magnetic force.  Researchers previously thought that given the size of the nanorust, only large electromagnets would remove the particles from water.  Iron oxide binds to arsenic extremely well, and such binding does not appear to impact the magnetic properties of the nanorust.  This technology shows promise for areas of the world that do not have reliable electricity or funding, such as Southeast Asia, and who need to remove high levels of naturally occurring arsenic from their water supplies.  This discovery may make it possible to decontaminate drinking water on a household scale without the use of electricity.