Drinking water is a vital source for survival of human beings and access to safe and clean drinking water is a major concern throughout the world. Waterborne diseases are one of the main problems in developing countries. More than 100 million people in India are living in places where water is severely polluted. Availability of pure drinking water resources are reducing nowadays due to poor land use management. Surface water is polluted by sewage, industrial water discharge and run off from the land clearing.
In rural areas, people living in extreme poverty sometimes end up drinking highly turbid and microbiologically contaminated water as they lack of knowledge of proper drinking water treatment as well as they cannot afford to use high cost of chemical coagulants. The high cost of treated water makes most people in the rural communities to resort to readily available water sources like rivers & wells which may be contaminated or of low quality eventually exposing them to waterborne diseases.
While in urban areas, Municipal Corporations use chemical coagulants like Aluminium sulphate (alum), FeCl 2 etc in water treatment purification process which are costly and excess use of amount of chemical coagulants can affect human health e.g. Aluminum has also been indicated to be a causative agent in neurological diseases such as pre-senile dementia.
Some studies on natural coagulants have been carried out and various natural coagulants were produced or extracted from microorganisms, animals or plants. One of these alternatives is Moringa Oleifera known as Drum Sticks. It is a native tree of the sub-Himalayan parts of North-West India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Moringa Oleifera is a perfect example of a so-called “multipurpose tree”. Studies have found Moringa to be non-toxic and use of Moringa has an added advantage over the chemical treatment of water because it is biological, edible and is easily available in rural areas.
Moringa Oleifera seeds treat water on two levels, acting as both a coagulant and an antimicrobial agent. Studies show Moringa works as a coagulant due to positively charged, water-soluble proteins, which bind with negatively charged particles (silt, clay, bacteria, toxins, etc) allowing the resulting “flocs” to settle to the bottom or be removed by filtration. The antimicrobial aspects of Moringa continue to be researched.
Fig : Mumbai Mirror article
Findings support recombinant proteins both removing microorganisms by coagulation as well as acting directly as growth inhibitors of the microorganisms. While there is ongoing research being conducted on the nature and characteristics of these components.
Moringa seeds can be used as an economically viable option in the rural areas where facilities for clean drinking water are difficult to come by.
It could also be used as substitute of Alum in urban areas. Moringa Oleifera stands to be a suitable substitute coagulant for commercial alum in the nearest future in water treatment technology.