Cilantro Purifies Drinking Water in Developing Countries Cheaply and Sustainably
No longer just a flavorful garnish, cilantro has taken center stage in studies that show how the leafy herb might be a new, low-cost solution to purifying drinking water. Popularly used in Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine, cilantro is being hailed for its potential as a â€œbiosorbentâ€ that can remove lead and other toxic heavy metals from contaminated water.
Typically, water purification relies on advanced technology that uses activated carbon â€” an approach that is often too expensive for most developing countries, particularly rural areas. Thus, Douglas Schauer, Ph.D. has focused his research on biosorbents, low-cost and sustainable alternatives that rely on natural materials such as microbes and plants. In explaining the appeal of biosorbents, Schauer describes a scenario: â€œWhen the filter in a water purification pitcher needs to be changed, they could go outside, gather a handful of cilantro or some other plant, and presto, thereâ€™s a new filter ready to purify the water.â€
Also known as coriander and Chinese parsley, the plant is easily grown both at home and in the wild, making it readily available for many developing countries afflicted by a contaminated water supply. The key to the plantâ€™s success lies in the architecture of its outer cellular walls that make cilantro ideal for absorbing toxic metals such as lead. Results from small-scale experiments carried out in Mexico have supported Schauerâ€™s research and have even suggested that cilantro was more effective at water purification than conventional methods.
By Lucy Wang via inhabitat.com