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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid