If you enjoy camping or other outdoor activities, it is important that you drink clean water. The water that you find outdoors is potentially contaminated with all sorts of nasty substances that can make you very ill. The worst case scenario is that you may consume something that has the potential to kill you. There are several things that you keep in the cupboard at home for this, such as filters and chlorine tablets. However, you should never use crystals to clean water. Now, scientists believe that they have discovered a variety of moss that can also clean water.
This moss is called Warnstorfia Fluitans. It is a variety of moss that is found in the Swedish wetlands. In the same area, the water is contaminated with toxins from the mining companies nearby. One toxic substance with which the iron mines have contaminated the water is arsenic. The arsenic can then make its ways into various agricultural products and, in turn, into the food chain. It is for this reason that scientists have been investigating ways to remove the arsenic to prevent it from causing harm to humans.
Their scientific studies have led to the discovery that the arsenic levels in the water tested from the areas where this moss grows are significantly lower than in areas where there is no moss. In fact, the arsenic levels are so low that the water is almost of a drinkable quality.
These studies were conducted by a group of scientists from the University of Stockholm. They hope that their findings are a step forward in removing arsenic from water and they plan to introduce the moss to other areas of the Swedish wetlands. By doing so, they hope that it will help to clean up the area and reduce the contamination from the iron mines. So far, the research has only involved tests in laboratory settings and there have not yet been studied conducted in the field. This is clearly the next step in the process.
In the early stages of the study, the water taken from the wetlands contained over ten times the level of arsenic that the Environmental Protection Agency has stated is safe. When the scientists introduced moss to this water, it took no more than an hour for the moss to absorb around 82% of the arsenic in the water.
While the results of these tests are amazing, and it may seem strange that the scientists have not started introducing the moss elsewhere, their tests did not reflect a real-life, outdoors environment. Therefore, further testing was needed to simulate real conditions. Scientists started adding various other compounds into the water to reflect real-world conditions. When they did this, it slowed down the filtration process.
These results show that their initial findings are not-reflective of how the moss would perform in wetlands contaminated with arsenic. Another of their findings was that the moss could tolerate extremely high levels of arsenic. In fact, it could withstand concentrations of arsenic that are over 1,000 times higher than the maximum levels stated by the Environment Protection Agency. Beyond this point, the moss began to show signs of toxicity itself.
It begs the question of how the moss was able to survive such high levels of this toxin. The researchers have offered an explanation for this. According to them, the arsenic was bound to the tissues of the moss and this meant that the arsenic was no longer harmful.
The scientists believe that their research could help to break the cycle of arsenic poisoning, which is something that is affecting many animals in the contaminated areas of the wetlands. There are very few species that eat the moss and, if the arsenic is bound to the moss, it reduces the risk of the toxic substance being consumed. If the scientists are correct, it seems there is a very cheap solution to this dangerous hazard.
Of course, the scientists must continue their research further before they can take such action as it is a long road between the testing in laboratories stage of the research to completing environmental clean-ups. However, the findings of their research so far have given environmentalists new hope that there is finally a way of improving this serious ecological situation.