News / Science & Technology

Study: Kitchen Herb Helps Purify Polluted Water

Tests showed cilantro was one of the most effective plants for pulling lead out of polluted water. (File Photo)
Tests showed cilantro was one of the most effective plants for pulling lead out of polluted water. (File Photo)
Jessica Berman
Scientists say cilantro, a favorite ingredient in Mexican and Southeast Asian cooking, shows promise as a so-called biosorbent to mop up heavy metals that have leached into ground water from factories in many developing countries.  

Also known as Thai parsley and coriander, cilantro is cheap and abundant in some of the world's most polluted countries where municipal waste dumps and factories deposit dangerous amounts of lead, copper, arsenic, cadmium and mercury.

More advanced technologies used in the West to remove the heavy metals, including activated carbon, are expensive.

Earlier this year, Douglas Schauer of Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Indiana, led students to Tula Valley near Mexico City, in search of cheap and plentiful materials that could be used to filter out industrial pollutants in ground water. They tested a number of abundant wild plants, which they dried out and crushed.

“And then we put that into a solution that has a known amount of lead in it," Schauer said. "That’s the metal we used as our test metal. Shake it up for a little bit, and then we let the particles settle out, and then we test the water to see how much lead is left behind.”

The students' tests showed cilantro was one of the most effective plants for pulling lead out of polluted water, Schauer said, adding that some plants' biosorbent properties are thought to be due to the microscopic cells that make up the plants’ cell walls.

Regardless of the how it works, Schauer recommends cilantro as a water purifier for people living near polluting factories, or in urban areas such as the Tula Valley, where Mexico City dumps all of its untreated municipal waste.

“Our hope is for somebody who lives in that region to simply be able go in their back yard and grab a handful of cilantro, maybe let it dry out for a couple days sitting on a rock in the sun, and then maybe a handful of that would purify a pitcher of water,” Schauer said.

Schauer believes dried cilantro could someday be packaged like tea bags, or as reusable water filter cartridges to remove heavy metals.

The findings of field studies with cilantro in Mexico were presented at this year’s annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Indiana.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: DAVID LULASA from: tambua,gimasrakwa,vihiga
September 14, 2013 6:18 AM
probably,metals will continue finding their way into peoples bodies..and if this spice can do what is being said here,then its consumption should never ceaze...but its prescription dose should be known.

lulasa


by: Jay Dillon
September 13, 2013 4:59 PM
One might live in a heavily polluted area, grow huge amounts of cilantro, filter one's water thru it, and sell the cilantro on the unregulated free market. If you catch my drift. I am not saying anyone should do this however!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid