Intended for healthcare professionals


Making dirty water drinkable

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 29 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:781

…as is the drumstick tree

  1. Arunachalam Kumar, professor of anatomy (ixedoc{at},
  2. C Jairaj Kumar, house surgeon
  1. Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore 575001, India
  2. Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore 575001, India

    EDITOR—Pure potable drinking water is premium even in metropolitan areas in developing and underdeveloped countries.1 Although chlorination at source and during storage is extensively used by city corporations and municipalities in India, in interior and rural settings, most if not all water for personal use is drawn from wells or village tanks and ponds. Village authorities rarely address the serious and perennial problem to health and hygiene from the consumption and use of contaminated water.

    The drumstick tree, Moringa oleifera, is found all over India, its product, the drumstick, being used extensively to add flavour, tang, and spice to native recipes. In some of the more enterprising panchayats (locally elected, administrative bodies consisting of five people), the common drumstick produce has been used for its water purification properties.

    Branches of the tree are lopped and thrown into turbid and contaminated wells—where, over a period of time, the once dirty water turns clear. Desiccated drumstick seeds (about 1 g/l) clear water.

    We are studying the effect of drumstick seed powder as a “flocculant catalyst” to hasten the time taken for measuring erythrocyte sedimentation rate in diagnostic procedures.


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    • Competing interests None declared.


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