Moss Capable of Removing Arsenic From Drinking Water Discovered

Discovered by researchers from Stockholm, a Swedish moss is capable of removing arsenic from contaminated water. In one hour, it reduces levels of arsenic in water to levels harmless enough for consumption. The study has been published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Areas around the world face water contamination from arsenic as the result of mining. Scientists have discovered that a kind of aquatic moss Warnstorfia fluitans, which grows in northern Sweden, has a very high capacity to remove arsenic. The moss has the ability to quickly absorb arsenic from water, taking no more than an hour to eliminate 80 percent of the arsenic in a container of water.

The discovery will allow for a natural and environmentally safe way to purify water. One strategy would be to grow the moss in streams and other watercourses with high levels of arsenic.

Researchers hope the plant-based wetland system being developed will solve the arsenic problem in Sweden’s northern mining areas. More research would to be done to see if other mosses have a similar impact.

Around the world, arsenic still reaches ground and water systems due to mining. Drinking water and water used for the irrigation of crops can contain elevated levels of arsenic. The plants absorb the arsenic from the soil and it eventually ends up in the food that we eat. In Sweden, this applies to wheat and root vegetables while in other countries, rice is affected.



Photo: “Moss.” by Jonas Ahrentorp is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0