Bioremediation of Turbid Surface Water Using Seed Extract from the Moringa oleifera Lam. (Drumstick) Tree

Michael Lea1

1 Safe Water International, Carpinteria, California
Publication Name:  Current Protocols in Microbiology
Unit Number:  Unit 1G.2
DOI:  10.1002/9780471729259.mc01g02s33
Online Posting Date:  May, 2014
GO TO THE FULL TEXT: PDF or HTML at Wiley Online Library


An indigenous water treatment method uses Moringa oleifera seeds in the form of a crude water‐soluble extract in suspension, resulting in an effective natural clarification agent for highly turbid and untreated pathogenic surface water. Efficient reduction (80.0% to 99.5%) of high turbidity produces an aesthetically clear supernatant, concurrently accompanied by 90.00% to 99.99% (1 to 4 log) bacterial reduction. Application of this low‐cost Moringa oleifera protocol is recommended for water treatment where rural and peri‐urban people living in extreme poverty are presently drinking highly turbid and microbiologically contaminated water. Curr. Protoc. Microbiol. 33:1G.1‐1G.8. © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Keywords: Moringa oleifera ; coagulation; flocculation; household water treatment; developing countries

PDF or HTML at Wiley Online Library

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Strategic Planning
  • Basic Protocol 1: Clarification of Turbid Surface Water Using Seed Extract from M. Oleifera
  • Support Protocol 1: Simpilified Village Jar Test
  • Commentary
  • Literature Cited
PDF or HTML at Wiley Online Library


Basic Protocol 1: Clarification of Turbid Surface Water Using Seed Extract from M. Oleifera

  • Moringa oleifera Lam. mature fruit pods or presscake
  • 1/2 cup (∼125 ml) of clean or previously clarified water
  • 10 liters raw source water
  • Household spice crusher (grinding stone or mortar)
  • 0.8‐mm mesh (e.g., tea strainer)
  • One clean screw‐capped glass bottle [soda or beer bottle, ∼12 oz. (341 ml)]
  • One wooden paddle‐type utensil
  • Muslin or cotton filter cloth
  • One designated water‐collection container

Support Protocol 1: Simpilified Village Jar Test

PDF or HTML at Wiley Online Library



Literature Cited

   Bergman, M. and Arnoldsson, E. 2008. Assessment of Drinking Water Treatment using Moringa oleifera Natural Coagulant—A Minor Field Study in Maputo, Mozambique. Masters Thesis. Water Resources Engineering, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
   Bratby, J. 2006. Coagulation and Flocculation in Water and Wastewater Treatment, 2nd ed. IWA Publishing, London.
   Diouf, M. , Gueye, M. , Faye, B. , Dieme, O. , and Lo, C. 2007. The commodity systems of four indigenous leaf vegetables in Senegal. Water SA 33:343‐348.
   Doerr, B. 2005. Moringa water treatment: ECHO technical note. Education Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), North Fort Myers, Fla.
   Dorea, C.C. 2006. Use of Moringa spp. seeds for coagulation: A review of a sustainable option. Water Sci. Technol. Water Supply 6:219‐227.
   Fahey, J.W. 2005. Moringa oleifera: A review of the medical evidence for its nutritional, therapeutic, and prophylactic properties. Part 1. J. Phytochem. 47:123‐157.
   Folkard, G. and Sutherland, J. 2001. The Use of Moringa oleifera as a Natural Coagulant for Water and Wastewater Treatment. Department of Engineering, University of Leicester, U.K.
   Fuglie, L.J. 2000. New Uses of Moringa Studied in Nicaragua. ECHO Development Notes #68. Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO), North Fort Myers, Fla.
   Ives, K. and Jahn, S.A.A. 1994. Coagulation and Flocculation. Small Community Water Supplies: Technology, people and partnership TP40_14: 296‐312. IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC), The Hague, The Netherlands.
   Jahn, S.A.A. 1988. Using Moringa seeds as coagulants in developing countries. J. Am. Water Works Assoc. 80:43‐50.
   Katayon, S. , Megat Mohd Noor, M.J. , Asma, M. , Thamer, A.M. , Liew Abdullah, A.G. , Idris, A. , Suleyman, A.M. , Aminuddin, M.B. , and Khor, B.C. 2004. Effects of storage duration and temperature of Moringa oleifera stock solution on its performance in coagulation. Int. J. Engin. Technol. 1:146‐151.
   Levicki, K. 2005. A Catchment to Consumer Approach to Rural Water Resource Assessment: Baseline Study and Safe Drinking Water Supply Strategy for Orongo Village, Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya. Royal Institute of Technology. Stockholm, Sweden.
   Madsen, M. , Schlundt, J. , and Omer, E.F. 1987. Effect of water coagulation by seeds of Moringa oleifera on bacterial concentrations. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 90:101‐109.
   Marobhe, N.J.M. 2008. Water Supply in Tanzania and Performance of Local Plant Materials in Purification of Turbid Water. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden.
   Olayemi, A.B. and Alabi, R.O. 1994. Studies on traditional water purification using Moringa oleifera seeds. African Study Monographs 15:135‐142.
   Narasiah, K.S. , Vogel, A. , and Kramadhati, N.N. 2002. Coagulation of turbid waters using Moringa oleifera seeds from two distinct sources. Water Sci. Technol. Water Supply 2:83‐88.
   Ndabigengesere, A.I. and Narasiah, K.S. 1996. Influence of operating parameters on turbidity removal by coagulation with Moringa oleifera seeds. Environ. Technol. 17:1103‐1112.
   Schwarz, D. 2000. Water Clarification using Moringa oleifera . Gate Information Service, Eschborn, Germany.
   Sutherland, J.P. , Folkard, G.K. , Mtawali, M.A. , and Grant, W.D. 1994. Moringa oleifera as a Natural Coagulant. Affordable Water Supply & Sanitation: Proceedings of the 20th WEDC Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
   Taley, S. 2007. Moringa oleifera for Water Purification—a Traditional Boon for Rural Peoples. Stockholm Water Symposium, Workshop Poster. Stockholm, Sweden.
   Yazdani, I. 2007. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Containers as an Alternative to Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Bottles for Solar Disinfection of Drinking Water in Northern Region, Ghana. Masters Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge, Mass.
Key References
   Jahn , 1988. See above.
  The three references above provide practical information on Moringa and the treatment of water in developing countries.
   Madsen et al., 1987. See above.
   Dorea , 2006. See above.
Internet Resources
  Gate Information Service. Provides the most comprehensive concise overview of water clarification using Moringa oleifera.‐work/our‐initiatives/moringa
  Trees for Life International. A plethora of information including free access to Moringa books, posters, PowerPoint presentations, and educational materials.‐and‐resources/
  Hesperian Foundation provides excellent practical field guides, including Water for Life: Community Water Security.
  Eric Lemetais's comprehensive but brief overview of M. oleifera, including map, photographs of Moringa seeds, and before and after depictions of water treatment.
  Moringa News. An international network of people interested in M. oleifera. Their Web site offers reliable information and a platform to exchange knowledge.‐briefs/60‐water‐clarification‐using‐moringa‐oleifera‐seeds.pdf
  WELL: Resource Center Network for Water Sanitation and Environmental Health, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, U.K. This technical brief gives an overview of the application of an indigenous, naturally derived coagulant, namely seed material from the multi‐purpose tree Moringa oleifera Lam. (M. oleifera), which offers an alternative solution to the use of expensive chemical coagulants.
  Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO). Provides Moringa Tree technical note.‐cations/TechPub‐8a/natural.asp
  United Nations Environment Programme. UN's Moringa Technical Brief.
  Farm Radio International. This script for radio broadcasters in developing countries is about using seeds from the Moringa tree (Moringa oleifera) to clean dirty water.
  Tearfund International. Briefly describes M. oleifera multiple uses including household water treatment.
  AT@Work. The toolkit at the link above explains the principles of doing business in poverty‐stricken (less than $1 a day) areas, offers a step‐by‐step business development approach, and provides practical tools, tips, and background information.
  Household Water Storage, Handling and Point‐of‐Use Treatment Report. A review commissioned by Internal Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene. This PDF paper reviews the range of simple, low‐cost physical and chemical treatment methods and systems for safe water collection, handling, and storage, along with the evidence that shows the extent to which water can be the source of disease outbreaks, and how point‐of‐use treatment and safe water storage can reduce the burden of diarrheal and other waterborne diseases.
  National Academies Press. Moringa chapter from Lost Crops of Africa: Volume 2. Great descriptive overview of M. oleifera.
  Excellent photographs of mature Moringa seeds within the fruit pod. Other general photographs of nice quality are included.
  An illustrative depiction of preparing Moringa oleifera seeds for water treatment. Though outdated, it explains the major steps nicely
  Illustrative YouTube video entitled Moringa Water Purification.
  Wikipedia entry for Moringa oleifera, accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
PDF or HTML at Wiley Online Library