Photo credit: cattails.info
With climate change comes a plethora of associated problems, one of which is access to clean drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, there are 46-57 million people who are exposed to arsenic levels in drinking water that are higher than the “safe” amount of 0.01mg/L. In eastern Indian and Bangladesh, individuals have been drinking well water containing six times the “safe” amount of arsenic. If you continue drinking this water, cancer is the unfortunate outcome.
Thus, there is a growing need for cheap, effective ways to clean drinking water, especially in developing countries. Jeremiah Jackson, civil and environmental engineer, has discovered a method that satisfies this need through the use of cattails. In his backyard he placed cattails in two buckets, one containing arsenic and one without. He found that cattails were absorbing the arsenic from the water. Expanding on this finding, he placed 12 cattails in a 12 square-foot section of water containing arsenic. After 6 weeks he found that 89% of the arsenic was removed, bringing the levels into the “safe” range.
“The cattail actually thinks the arsenic is a nutrient. It absorbs it as if were a nutrient, a fertilizer. And I found the plants actually flourished.” -Jeremiah Jackson
When looking at a process such as this, one understands the shear beauty of nature. If an individual is able to recognize this beauty, they have a greater chance of caring for nature. Through this care comes responsibility and respect for Mother Earth, something we all should be striving for.