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article imageCommon weed could tackle water pollution

By Tim Sandle     Mar 16, 2015 in Environment
A common weed called Typha domingensis may have an application in reducing bacterial contamination of water. This plant could significantly off-set contamination from sewage associated bacteria.
The weed is found in places where water flows and it appears to be able to withstand high pollution concentrations. Researchers think that this ability is due to the roots of Typha domingensis being able to release compounds that reduce the number of pathogens.
Typha domingensis is more often called southern cattail or cumbungi. The plant is found intemperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Although regarded as a pest in most regions, in parts of Turkey the plant is used externally to treat skin wounds such as burns.
Studies, where the weed was deliberately planted in rivers, showed that high densities of the water-liking plant can significantly reduce the impact of biological and chemical contamination. The studies were conducted within special regions within the agricultural drain La Michoacana", located in the town of Navolato, Sinaloa, in the North East of Mexico. Here a demarcated area of around 4 kilometers was used for the research.
This area of water receives water and solid waste from agriculture, livestock and the nearby town, which is situated on the banks of the canal.
In terms of reducing pathogenic bacteria, the studies showed that the weed can help to reduce, by up to 98 percent, pollution by bacteria from the group Enterobacteria (organisms, often pathogenic, and associated with the intestines of mammals). Such organisms could be introduced from the free flow of animal waste.
Typha domingensis is often considered a pest and in many locales it is removed as part of river ecosystem management. The new study suggests that the plant should be retained, provided that the water is allowed to flow freely.
The study was conducted at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa. However, the study has yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal.
More about Water pollution, Weeds, Rivers, Cleaning
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