Mother Nature seems to keep surprising us with new methods to conserve the environment, from bacteria that consume plastic to bacteria that consume oil. Scientists have found a kind of moss that can clean arsenic-tainted water, rendering it safe for consumption.
The water moss Warnstofia fuitans is indigenous to Sweden. Researchers at Stockholm University have demonstrated that a plant’s capacity to remove heavy metals from water through phytofiltration can potentially remove up to 82 percent of arsenic from contaminated water.
“Our experiments show that the moss has a very high capacity to remove arsenic,” according to experiments, research assistant Arifin Sandhi said. The procedure only takes an hour, which, according to Sandhi, is sufficient time to sufficiently reduce the amounts of arsenite and arsenate so that the water is no longer dangerous for humans.
The team promotes the moss as an “environmentally friendly way to purify water of arsenic” and claims that it can be cultivated in streams and other waterways where metalloid levels are present both naturally and unnaturally. The moss is effective whether it is alive or dead.
Mining and metal refineries have a long tradition in Sweden, going back over a thousand years. Researchers claim that despite the 2004 prohibition on arsenic compounds in wood products, the metal continues to enter groundwater and water systems through mining activities. But extraction isn’t the only culprit. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in certain areas of the earth and in the bedrock of the Scandinavian nations.
As a result, both water used for crop irrigation and drinking have elevated arsenic levels. Arsenic ultimately finds its way into foods like wheat, root vegetables, and leafy greens because plants absorb it from the earth.
“How much arsenic we consume ultimately depends on how much of these foods we eat, as well as how and where they were grown,” according to researcher Maria Greger.
Arsenic levels discovered in juice and rice-based baby foods in other nations have spurred investigations and new laws. According to the World Health Organization, at least 150 million people in ten nations are consuming water that is contaminated with arsenic. The gray chemical element once considered a “global health issue,” can kill red blood cells, cause shock or abdominal pain, and eventually be fatal.
The group is working on creating a “plant-based wetland system” that incorporates the moss to filter out arsenic before the water becomes drinking water or is used for irrigation, removing the possibility that arsenic will reach food sources. They published their work in the journal Environmental Pollution.
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