Tag Archives: National Geographic

Llama Beans Are Used to Clean Water

submitted by Sheila Fugina

Llama manure is being used to treat run-off from a tin and silver mine that pollutes the main water supply for La Paz, Bolivia. According to National Geographic Today, researchers have been developing a low-cost way to neutralize the acidic, metal-laden water by filtering it through llama droppings.

In a pilot study the scientists used llama beans to treat run-off from the Milluni mine, a tin and silver mine that has killed organisms in an alpine lake and also polluted the La Paz water supply. Their low-tech “bioreactor” system harnesses microbes living in the manure to neutralize the acidic water and remove most of the dissolved metals.

After successfully testing a dung-based filtration system in the United Kingdom using cattle and horse manure, researchers tried the method in Bolivia using llama manure. When the mine water is filtered through ponds and lagoons filled with the manure, the acidity of the water changes from something equivalent to vinegar to a neutral state close to that of drinking water. The treated water was almost neutralized and the level of many of the metals were reduced to quantities declared safe by the World Health Organization.

Funding is now being sought to implement creation of large-scale bioreactors to treat the water from the Milluni mine.

See the full National Geographic News article.