A critical evaluation of two point-of-use water treatment technologies: can they provide water that meets WHO drinking water guidelines?

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Point-of-use (POU) technologies have been proposed as solutions for meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for safe water. They reduce the risk of contamination between the water source and the home, by providing treatment at the household level. This study examined two POU technologies commonly used around the world: BioSand and ceramic filters. While the health benefits in terms of diarrhoeal disease reduction have been fairly well documented for both technologies, little research has focused on the ability of these technologies to treat other contaminants that pose health concerns, including the potential for formation of contaminants as a result of POU treatment. These technologies have not been rigorously tested to see if they meet World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guidelines. A study was developed to evaluate POU BioSand and ceramic filters in terms of microbiological and chemical quality of the treated water. The following parameters were monitored on filters in rural Cambodia over a six-month period: iron, manganese, fluoride, nitrate, nitrite and Escherichia coli. The results revealed that these technologies are not capable of consistently meeting all of the WHO drinking water guidelines for these parameters.

Keywords: BioSand filters, Cambodia, ceramic water filters, household water treatment, point-of-use water treatment, WHO guidelines

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