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How One Plant Is Making Water Safe To Drink

Water is the most important commodity to sustain life on earth, but because of climate change, rapid urbanization, and industrialization, the sources of potable water are rapidly decreasing or becoming contaminated. Nonavailability of potable drinking water is one of the major causes of death, especially among children. According to recent estimates, about 25,000 people die every day just because of waterborne ailments, and millions suffer from other devastating effects.

Providing safe and potable drinking water by means of water purifiers is a billion-dollar industry that is also growing at a very fast rate. Present-day water purifiers have several disadvantages:

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  1. The major disadvantage of present-day water purifiers is their high cost, making it out of reach for most of the rural population of the world.
  2. Some water purifiers use chlorine to purify water, which also has long-term adverse effects on human health.
  3. Some advanced water purifiers reduce the nutritional and mineral quality of water, thus making it more harmful to human health.
  4. Similarly, some of the advanced water purifiers tend to waste precious water during the purification process, which is not affordable at all.
  5. Most of the purifiers are not portable and thus can be of no use for frequent travelers and adventure-loving people.

Considering the disadvantages attached to most present-day water purifiers, there is a need to have an alternative method of water purification which is low cost, easy to use, compact, and portable. We initiated work on the development of a Moringa oleifera-based water purification system. Initially, the aqueous extract of Moringa oleifera seeds had been identified to have a strong antibacterial property against a number of pathogenic bacterial strains. Thus, considering the edible nature of Moringa oleifera seeds, we formulated a dip bag-based water purification kit to purify drinking water. Our experiments demonstrated that the developed kit is capable of removing strains of E. coli, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, S. typhi, and MRSA from water in a short span of five minutes.

We have also confirmed that the kit is bactericidal in nature. All the parameters of the functional kit have been characterized, and we have reached a standardized formulation where a dip bag containing 100mg of seed powder is fully capable of removing bacterial contamination from 1L of water in a five minute span. A number of contaminated water samples collected from natural water sources have also been tested with the developed kit. The efficacy of the Moringa oleifera seed-based kit was found to be the same as all the water samples tested; after treatment with the kit, all the contaminated water samples were purified.

The following are the advantages of the Moringa oleifera-based water purification system over conventional water purifications methods:

  1. The Moringa oleifera-based kit is low cost and will be obtainable for everyone so that water can be purified for individual needs.
  2. This technology has high market potential since it is based upon using cheap and readily-available MOS. Moreover, it will not involve the use of costly and technically advanced methodology for water purification, which requires expert staff, again adding to the cost of production.
  3. RO systems reduce the TDS of water tremendously, thus making water harmful to human health. On the contrary, using the Moringa oleifera-based water purification kit, the TDS of water will be maintained.
  4. The nutritional content of the water is also retained as no chemicals were used. This will reduce the use of harmful chemicals which affect the ecosystem.
  5. It is easily portable and can also be effectively used during travel.

The Moringa oleifera-based water purification kit will be useful not only in rural settings but also for urban settings as well. This safe and cost-effective product can be used to purify drinking water at every doorstep and, as a consequence, the incidence of water-borne ailments among the population can be reduced. Apart from the already described use, this developed technology will be extremely effective in disaster (flooding) affected areas and may also have a defense relevance.

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