Access to clean drinking water is a worldwide problem. One billion people, or roughly 1 in 7 persons across the globe, lack access to safe water. Without potable water, these millions of people are exposed to waterborne pathogens that can cause sickness and death. Each year, waterborne pathogens make tens of millions of people sick and lead to 1.8 million deaths. And all of these are preventable.
Researchers are working on cheap and practical ways to provide safe drinking water across the globe. Ramakrishna Mallampati, an investigator at the National University of Singapore, has devised a new way to purify dirty water. By using the peels of fruits and vegetables, Mallampati believes that he can effectively and economically filter out impurities from water to make it safe to drink.
The fruits and vegetables are used to purify dirty water by drawing out toxic ions and organic pollutants from liquid. Tomato peels effectively remove “dissolved organic and inorganic chemicals, dyes and pesticides, and…can also be used in large scare applications.” Tomatoes are the second most consumed vegetable in the world. With the vegetable’s widespread availability, using tomato peels to purify water could prove to be a convenient, easy, and cheap way to purify drinking water.
Like tomato peels, apple peels are also able to draw out a number of pollutants from dirty water. The peels can extract anions such as “phosphate, arsenate, arsenite, and chromate ions from aqueous solutions.” While the apple peels must first be treated with a zirconium oxide before they can effectively remove impurities from water, the wide prevalence of the fruit throughout the world means that it could also be used to treat drinking water on a large scale.
The newly designed water purification methods could prove revolutionary in the developing world. Many large scale treatment processes used in developed nations are simply inaccessible to the impoverished across the globe due to a lack of the financial capital needed to implement them. The process of purifying water by using tomato and apple peels mitigates the financial obstacle that prevents many in the developed world from having clean drinking water. Ramakrishna Mallampati hopes that by using his new purification process, those living in developing areas will be able to live healthier and more productive lives.
– Jordan Kline