Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Back to brass vessels to beat diseases

I still remember during my days as a kid, we used to store pottable drinking water in brass pots - infact most of the households used to store drinking water in metal pots; specifically made of brass or copper. Also pots made of these metal alloys were cheap. At that time nobody analysed why we used vessels made of these metal alloys and most took it as common practice. But over the years, the brass and copper utensils were replaced with more economical steel and plastic utensils as these materials became widely prevalent.
Now an international study has suggested that the use of brass vessels to store drinking water could help combat diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, jaundice and dysentery. A report published in the Nature said, the vessels could prove specially useful in the developing countries where people view plastic containers as better and cheaper options to store drinking water.
The scientists found that the bacteria were less likely to thrive in brass water pots than in earthen or plastic containers. To prove it, the scientists filled brass and earthen vessels with a diluted culture of Escherichia coli bacteria, which can cause diseases such as dysentery. They counted the surviving bacteria after 6 hrs, 24 hrs and 48 hrs. A similar test was carried out using naturally contaminated water. The amount of live E.coli in the brass vessels dropped dramatically over time, and after 48 hrs, they fell to undetectable levels.
This study has reinforced the traditional Indian wisdom that brass water containers offer some protection against sickness. The key element is copper which acts by interfering with the membranes and enzymes of cells, eventually killing the bacteria. Pots made of brass - an alloy of copper and zinc shed copper particles into the water they contain.
Courtesy : The Hindu

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