A Moss Can Naturally Clean Harmful Arsenic From Water
Dan Robitzski, 19-04-2018
If you happen to be thirsty in the woods, there are a lot of things you can stick in your canteen to help clean up your drinking water. There are chlorine pills and filters (not crystals — never crystals). And now scientists have identified a certain kind of moss that could do it, too.
The moss is called Warnstorfia fluitans. It grows in Swedish wetlands contaminated with the toxic arsenic from nearby mining operations. Researchers found that the moss brought the arsenic levels of water down to drinkable levels surprisingly quickly, according to research published in the journal Environmental Pollution.
In northern Sweden, iron mines have contaminated much of the water with arsenic, a metal that is also toxic to humans. That harmful combination works its way into agricultural products like rice, traveling throughout the food web.
Researchers from the University of Stockholm hope that introducing this moss into wetlands could help clean up the area.
To test it in a controlled lab setting (that’s science-ese for “no one has tested this in the field yet,”) the researchers started with water that contained ten times the amount of arsenic deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. When they exposed the moss to it, the moss took just an hour to absorb 82 percent of the arsenic.
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