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Onions and garlic could be used to capture heavy metals

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December 12, 2012

Onion and garlic waste might be utilized to mop-up heavy metal pollutants (Photo: Shutters...

Onion and garlic waste might be utilized to mop-up heavy metal pollutants (Photo: Shutterstock)

They may taste great on a pizza, but could onions and garlic be used to help clean up hazardous heavy metals? Research conducted at GGS Indraprastha University in Delhi, India, suggests this is indeed the case.

Biotechnologists Rahul Negi, Gouri Satpathy, Yogesh Tyagi and Rajinder Gupta posit that the waste from the processing and canning of onions (or Allium cepa L.), and garlic (Allium sativum L.), could be used as an alternative remediation for removing toxic heavy metal elements – including arsenic, cadmium, iron, mercury, tin, and lead – from contaminated materials such as industrial effluent.

Following extensive temperature and pH testing of the Allium, the team arrived at a test solution, which was then tasked with the removal of heavy metals from both simulated and real industrial effluents. This solution was able to extract more than 10 mg of lead pollution per gram of Allium material, amounting to a recovery efficiency which exceeds 70 percent.

"The technique appears to be industrially applicable and viable," said an unnamed member of the team. "This may provide an affordable, environmental friendly and low maintenance technology for small and medium scale industries in developing countries."

The research was detailed in a paper recently published in the journal International Journal of Environment and Pollution.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road.

  All articles by Adam Williams
4 Comments

Mushrooms do the same thing. Check out Paul Stamets' Mycellium Running

rwalker
12th December, 2012 @ 10:33 am PST

How difficult would it be to extract the pure heavy metals from the resulting material?

Slowburn
12th December, 2012 @ 12:51 pm PST

i didnt yet read their report but heavy metal contamination is a huge problem. So how do i clean my blood and liver? Just eat it? I can do that. Its disturbing what a tiny little bit of lead can do to living tissue.

MasterG
12th December, 2012 @ 02:37 pm PST

Removal of mercury amalgam fillings from teeth might also reduce Alzheimer's.

Thunderbird4
13th December, 2012 @ 04:35 pm PST
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