09/13/2013

Cilantro used to purify water

NEWS

Developing countries often can’t afford to use in-home water purification systems or more advanced technology to purify drinking water. There is a need for lower-cost, sustainable alternatives, and researchers are conducting studies on various natural materials that can latch on to heavy metals in a way that can filter water.

Mexico, in particular, does not have a system to filter out heavy metals. Professor Douglas Schauer, Ph.D., from Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, along with six of his students, traveled to Mexico’s Universidad Politécnica de Francisco I. Madero in Hidalgo. Their purpose was to study the effectiveness of an ingredient growing right in their backyards—cilantro.

Schauer and his students worked with scientists from Mexico’s university in small-scale experiments. They found that cilantro may be more effective than some other methods, such as activated carbon, in removing heavy metals from water.

Cilantro’s potential purification abilities could be attributed to the architectural structure of its cells, which lends itself to absorb heavy metals, researchers said. Schauer said their studies suggest that cilantro shows promise as a way to remove toxic heavy metals from water and that it could be used like tea-bags or reusable water filter cartridges to purify drinking water.

Much more research, however, needs to be done to confirm the herb’s purification abilities.

These findings were presented in the 246th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

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