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Recycled Water

February 13, 2014

Would you drink recycled water if you were assured it was safe?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Erasing tainted water taboos. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Matthew Bowden wikipedia

Matthew Bowden/Wikipedia

Many parts of the US already face frequent droughts and scarce drinking water, and the situation is expected to get worse. Recycling water is one solution, and scientists already have the ability to make wastewater cleaner than bottled spring water. The problem is, no one wants to drink it. University of Miami graduate psychology student Julia Wester wants to change their minds.

JULIA WESTER:

So what we’re doing now is trying to increase people’s willingness to use water that’s been recycled and decrease that disgust reaction.

HIRSHON:

She’s found that women and socially conservative people of both sexes have the highest level of disgust at the idea. But she’s also found that the disgust goes down as they gain familiarity and especially direct experience with recycled water. Suggesting that even strong contamination taboos can be overcome. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.