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A Simple Tree Branch Can Become a Backyard Water Filter

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For people in too many developing countries, clean water is often a luxury. Chlorine treatments are too expensive for small villages, boiling requires a hefty investment in fuel, and UV radiation demands regular high-tech maintenance. But now, scientists say that a simple, inexpensive water filter might be only a tree branch away from reality.

As reported in a paper published yesterday on PLOS One, MIT researchers ran contaminated water through a sapwood branch and found that the plant tissue successfully filtered experimental dye and actual bacteria out of the mix. The filter required only a fresh branch of white pine and some cheap plastic tubing—simplicity that could be ideal in remote villages or emergency situations.

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