[This was written by Fran Siebrits and published online by Wild Magazine http://www.wildcard.co.za/, 2011]

Bananas are not merely a fruit, rich in vitamins and delicious anytime of the day. Of their many other uses, water purification has most recently been discovered.

The fruit of the genus Musa (what we call bananas), flowers and leaves of the plant are used worldwide as food or in the cooking process. Their tough fibres are used in textile, paper and shoe production. Bananas also play a significant role in certain cultures and their traditional medicine, as well as simply adding lush greenery to any garden.
But more importantly today, banana peels can be used to purify water contaminated with potentially toxic metals.

In a world where natural resources are being used up faster than they can be replenished, it is imperative to prioritise efforts to stabilise the environment, especially if future generations are to continue living on planet Earth.

Water is a resource we cannot live without. Nature too will suffer, but let’s give her the credit she deserves: she will be around a lot longer than the rest of us. As she has done many times before, she will heal the deep wounds created by humanity’s ignorance, adapt and come out on top. We, on the other hand, have to put measures in place to make sure that the resources we depend on are still around in the years to come.

Runoff from mining, farms and industry puts heavy metals, which are harmful to our health and the environment, in our waterways. Given the decreasing levels of clean or ‘safe’ water, it is easy to see how important water purification is. However, purification methods are expensive and some substances used are even toxic themselves. But having emphasised that point, back to bananas …

The latest research has shown that minced banana peels perform better in cleaning drinking water than the array of purification materials out there. Certain plant waste such as coconut fibres and peanut shells have also been known to remove toxic materials but the banana peel purification apparatus can be used 11 times before it loses its metal-binding properties.

What’s great about this form of water purification apparatus is that it is cost effective and does not need any chemical modification to work.

Hopefully Mr Ackerman catches on and they will be available on the shelves soon.

Bananas facts:

• Just like the banana fruit is eaten, the flower of the plant is used as a vegetable in cooking.
• Leaves are used as eco-friendly disposable plates and containers.
• Because of the juices contained in the leaves, food is often cooked in them which adds a delicious flavour and prevents food from burning.
• Bananas contain a good amount of potassium and vitamin B.
• In India, juices are extracted and used as a homeopathic remedy to treat jaundice.

Source: Journal Reference: Renata S. D. Castro, Laércio Caetano, Guilherme Ferreira, Pedro M. Padilha, Margarida J. Saeki, Luiz F. Zara, Marco Antonio U. Martines, Gustavo R. Castro. Banana Peel Applied to the Solid Phase Extraction of Copper and Lead from River Water: Preconcentration of Metal Ions with a Fruit Waste. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2011; : 110216180259021 DOI: 10.1021/ie101499e

Viewed online [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110309113030.htm]