Benefits Of Storing Water In Copper Pots

Author

V.B. Preethi Sudha and P. Venkatasubramanian*, Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), 74/2, Jarakabande Kaval, Attur Post via Yelahanka, Bangalore-560 064, India

Proceeding

1st International Conference & Exhibition on Women's Health & Asian Traditional (WHAT) Medicine

Date

23/8/2005

Keyword

drinking water, copper pots, ayurveda, purification system, antimicrobial effect

Abstract

Water is essential to sustain life. WHO estimates that four million children under the age of five die each year from diarrhoea, mainly in developing countries. Unsafe drinking water is widely thought to be the major cause1. With increased resistance of micro organisms to antibiotics and Synthetic Organic Disinfectants, a novel, cost-effective purification system is the need of the hour. Ancient ayurvedic texts recommend the use of metals like gold, silver and copper for purification of water2 . In India, it is common practice to store drinking water in copper pots. The main aim of the current study was to evaluate the benefit and safety of drinking water stored in copper pots. The study was designed to demonstrate the antibacterial and leaching effect of copper in the pots. Escherichia coli (E.coli), Salmonella typhi (S.typhi), Staphylococcus aureus (S.aureus), Bacillus subtilis (B.subtilis) were inoculated in the water for evaluating the antibacterial effect. The amount of copper that was leached into the water was determined by using a kit “Spectroquant ® 1.14414.” (Merck) and the absorbance was measured at 595nm using a UV – Vis spectrophotometer (Systronics 117).  Preliminary tests were also conducted to study the mode of action of copper to cause the antimicrobial effect. Boiling of water stored in Copper pots and use of chelating agents were adopted to identify the nature of the antimicrobial entity that leaches into water. Our study indicated that E.coli gets completely killed within 8 - 12 hours of inoculation into water stored in copper pots. The copper vessel did not exhibit any antibacterial property against the other organisms tested. The levels of copper (< 1035 ppb) that had leached into water were within the permissible limits of World Health Organisation (WHO). . Tests also indicated that the continuous presence of the pot was not necessary to cause the kill of E.coli, as the water withdrawn & tested after storing for 24 hours in copper pots, was able to kill the organisms. Boiling of an active copper water (water stored in copper pots for 24 h) did not reduce the antibacterial activity against E.coli. This indicates that the antimicrobial effect is due to a heat stable compound(s). It is possible that unstable free radicals may not be the contributing active entity. In the test conducted using different concentrations of EDTA in active copper stored water, the growth of E.coli increased with the concentration of EDTA. This indicates that the antimicrobial entity that is leached into water is probably copper ions as such and that since that is sequestered by EDTA, they are no longer available for activity against E.coli. Storing water in copper pots offers the benefit of providing drinking water free from E.coli. Its efficacy on the other water-borne organisms could be explored by using herbs used to purify water.  Since copper pots may not be affordable to many, viable contraptions using copper may be designed to provide a cost-effective, decentralized purification method to the rural and urban population in developing countries.