Ingenious

Researchers are using tampons to help clean rivers

Twitter/Matthew Dilley

Aside from being a lifesaver during that time of the month when “Aunt Flow” is in town, tampons are being used to detect polluted water. Engineers from the University of Sheffield in England have discovered that after immersion in contaminated water, the untreated white cotton in tampons glows under UV light. This makes them perfect for identifying rivers with leaked sewage. Color brightening chemicals typically found in products like laundry detergent give the tampons that distinct glow when present. It’s normally difficult to find untreated cotton without chemicals already in them, so the tampon is a unique and cheap solution. Researchers placed them in 16 pipes that led to various local streams, and after three days, they were pulled out. Nine of them glowed to indicate the presence of water pollution. The results are helping researchers find the source of each sewage leak, and ultimately create cleaner water in their community.

Read the full story at BBC.

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