Is That a Banana in Your Water?
Condensed by Native Village
New science shows
that banana peels can pull heavy metal
contamination from river water.
Metals like lead and copper enter our waterways from
many sources such as agricultural runoff and industrial wastes.
These heavy metals poison the soil and pose health risks
to humans and other species. Lead is known to affect the
brain and nervous system.
Water quality engineers have used silica,
cellulose, and aluminum oxide to extract heavy metals
from water. The acids in these materials extract the metal ions.
However, this solution is expensive and may also present
toxic side effects of their own.
Bananas, on the other hand, appear to be a safe solution
that even outperforms the competition.
Gustavo Castro is from the Biosciences Institute in Botucatu, Brazil.
He has coauthored a new study on the new use of the
For the study, Castro and his team dried and ground
banana peels, then put them in flasks of water with
known concentrations of metals. They also built water
filters out of peels and pushed water through them.
In both cases, “the metal was removed from the water
and remained bonded to the banana peels,” Castro said.
He added that banana peels extracted more heavy metals
than the methods currently in place.
Other plant parts—including apple and sugar cane wastes,
coconut fibers, and peanut shells—can remove potential
toxins from water, too.
Castro said the study findings are most likely to be
useful in industrial settings.
The new study appears in
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, a
journal of the American Chemical Society.
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