LifeStraw Saves Those Without Access to Clean Drinking Water
Thursday, September 29, 2011
More than a billion people don’t have reliable access to clean drinking water. Boiling kills most germs in water, but requires fuel and doesn’t remove dirt. In recent years, sand and ceramic filters have become more common, but these tend to be more expensive and usually don’t catch all the microbes.
So many of the poor worldwide simply drink dirty water. As a result, about 1.5 million children die of diarrhea each year.
A new generation of cheap and effective water purifiers including Pureit (made by Unilever) and Swach (made by an Indian company, Tata, with a novel rice-husk ash filter) can remove nearly all water-borne pathogens without electricity.
But LifeStraw, produced by the Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen, was designed for the poorest of the poor. The personal version works like a chunky drinking straw and can filter about 1,000 liters, enough to keep a person hydrated for a year. The family version – which looks something like an IV drip that ends in a water cannon – can purify 18,000 liters, serving a typical family for about three years.