The UK – As a result of bad plumbing and a groaning sewer system, the waste that comes from dishwasher and washing machines is said to be ending up in rivers bring along all kind of contaminants. However, you will be surprised at what scientists have stumbled on which they say will be an effective tool to track down sources of sewage pollution; the tampons.
Tampons gladly absorb chemicals known as ‘optical brighteners’ and which are common in toilet paper, detergents and shampoos. This is according to researchers at the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering who have confirmed that this is made possible by the fact that tampons are made of natural, untreated cotton.
Detecting sewage pollution by looking out for optical brighteners could be a difficult task. This because it is not easy to find cotton that already contains the chemicals As such the explicitly untreated tampons will provide a solution to this difficulty.
A report has it that close to 1 million homes in the UK are not routing their waste water to treatment plant and instead they are leaching it out into nature. However, the discharge is irregular hence it is difficult to detect where this is happening or even see it with the naked eye.
Professor David Lerner one of the professors of environmental engineering has confirmed that a tampon will do the detective work. How? Tampons were placed in water sewers and left for three days in an effort to test for the presence of gray water contamination from laundry system runoff.
The tampons were then tested under a black light to determine if they had absorbed optical brighteners, or fluorescent whiteners, which apparently are detergent additives. Under UV light the white tampons glows leading to the identification of a contaminated sewer by upstream progressive testing which will eventually lead you to the house causing the problem.
Researchers have however indicated that though the tampon testing approach is very encouraging since it is of low cost, it still requires more investigations for validity purposes.