(528e) Using Cactus Mucilage to Remove Inorganic Contaminants From Drinking Water

Fox, D. I. - Presenter, University of South Florida
Pichler, T. - Presenter, University of Bremen
Yeh, D. H. - Presenter, University of South Florida

Sources of drinking water may become contaminated with several harmful inorganic and metallic species from both natural and man-made pollutant sources. Stricter environmental regulations are fuelling the search for more sustainable and environmentally benign methods to remove contaminants from drinking water. Cactus mucilage, an extract from the pads of the Opuntia ficus-indica (also known as Nopal and Prickly pear), was used to remove dissolved arsenic oxides, phosphates and chromium from drinking water.

Packed columns were used to filter test water treated with cactus mucilage. Concentrations of arsenic, phosphates and chromium were measured at entry and exit points of the test columns. Packing media and water chemistry were manipulated for optimization. Results show that simple filters employing cactus mucilage are effective at reducing arsenic, phosphate and chromium concentrations in drinking water. Cactus mucilage filters can potentially provide an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative for drinking water treatment.