A recent discovery by Brazilian researcher Gustavo Castro may have you going “bananas” very soon. Castro, an environmental chemist at São Paulo State University, not only loves to eat bananas, but he also loves to protect the environment. He realized that previous studies showed that natural compounds in plants such as coconuts and peanuts could purify contaminated drinking water, so he wanted to see if bananas could do the same thing.
Castro and his colleagues considered all of the natural nutrients and proteins that are in banana peels (the part that most people throw away). Banana peels contains nitrogen, sulfur and natural acids. These compounds work together as a natural “filter” and can purify and break down toxic elements in water such as copper and lead.
To see if this actually works Castro and his team dried and minced banana peels and mixed it with the polluted water from Brazil’s Paraná River. They found that the peels could remove the toxic elements just as well as other water purification systems. His findings were published in the journal Industrial & Chemical Engineering Research.
What could this mean for the future of pollution? It means that there may be a cheap, sustainable and safe way to clean our waterways.
Listen to a podcast of Castro discussing his finding on the American Chemical Society.