Researchers in India have developed a filter system based on a medicinal herb, which they say can quickly and easily remove fluoride from drinking water.
The technology described in the March issue of theInternational Journal of Environmental Engineeringuses parts of the plant Tridax procumbens as a biocarbon filter for the ion.
Drinking water can contain natural fluoride or fluoride might be added as a protective agent for teeth by water companies. However, its presence is not without controversy while in some natural drinking water levels may be above those considered safe by the World Health Organisation. Chemist Malairajan Singanan of the Presidency College (Autonomous), in Chennai, points out that the WHO guidelines suggest that a safe level of fluoride is 1.5 milligrams per liter.
He adds that various techniques to reduce fluoride content have been tried including coagulation, adsorption, precipitation, ion exchange, reverse osmosis, and electrodialysis. However, metal ions with an affinity for fluoride in a biocarbon matrix represent a promising new approach.
Singanan has investigated Tridax procumbens, which is commonly used as a medicinal herb in India, as a biocarbon absorbent for fluoride. Previously, the plant has been tested in the extraction of toxic heavy metals from water. He explains that by loading up plant tissue with aluminum ions it is possible create a safe biocarbon filter that will readily absorb fluoride ions from water warmed to around 27 Celsius passing through the filter.
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