By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 8: Forget water purifiers and follow grandma's age-old
principle of storing water in copper tumblers to keep off diseases
like typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis and uncontrolled loose motions.
An Indo-Australian team of researchers has found that water, if stored
in copper vessels for about 24 hours, gets purified with the harmful
bacteria present in it turning inactivated or dying. To find out if
the inactivated bacteria become activated when the water is consumed,
the scientists fed water purified through a copper tumbler to rats.
The rat model did not develop any of the symptoms of infection caused
by these bacteria.
"Copper attacks the DNA and other protein molecules present in the
bacteria and causes them severe injury. This injury later leads to
their death. For bacteria to die it takes about 24 hours. But as soon
as the water is poured into a copper tumbler, the action against
bacteria begins. First they get injured and within 24 hours they die.
So water should be stored in copper vessels for a day to obtain the
maximum health benefit," Dr Riti Sharan, one of the researchers, told
For a country like India where pure drinking water is a dream in many
localities and for a vast section of people, the age-old Indian
tradition of holding water in copper vessels reduces the burden of a
number of infections, she points out.
Dr Riti is part of the three-member Indo-Australian team comprising Dr
Sanjay Chhibberb and Dr Robert H Reeda. The researchers tested the
antibacterial effect of copper against bacteria like Salmonella Typhi,
Salmonella typhimurium, Vibrio cholerae and E coli. They found that
copper is capable of killing these harmful pathogens present in
"The copper vessel should be pure, at least 95 per cent copper and 5
per cent zinc. If the copper content is less than 95 per cent it will
not kill the harmful pathogens. In our studies we have taken 99 per
cent pure copper vessels," she added.
Since copper reacts with the atmospheric air and forms copper
sulphate, which is lethal, the copper vessels should be cleaned every
day and its inner surface should be shining. "We have for the first
time confirmed that these bacterial pathogens are inactivated by
storage in a copper vessel within 24 hours," she said.
The scientists took up the study to verify the claim of ancient Indian
texts that storage of water in brass and copper vessels protects
people from diseases. According to Dr Riti Sharan and her team,
micro-organisms generally are extremely susceptible to copper, making
it suitable for
The findings of the study have important implications in relation to
the practical use of copper vessels particularly in rural areas, in
terms of the time required to completely inactivate both healthy and