[MONTEVIDEO] Banana peels can be used to purify drinking water contaminated with toxic heavy metals such as copper and lead, according to a study.
Researchers from the Bioscience Institute at Botucatu, Brazil, said that the skins can outperform even conventional purifiers such as aluminium oxide, cellulose and silica. These have potentially toxic side effects and are expensive.
The team’s method follows previous work that showed that plant parts, such as apple and sugar cane wastes, coconut fibres and peanut shells, can remove toxins from water.
These natural materials contain chemicals that have an affinity for metals.
“I was at home eating bananas when I had the idea: ‘Why not make something with this?'” Gustavo Rocha de Castro, a researcher at the institute and co-author of this study, told SciDev.Net.
De Castro and colleagues dried the peels in the sun for a week, ground them and added them to river water containing known concentrations of copper and lead. They found that the peels absorbed 97 per cent of the metals after just one hour.