Bacterial adaptation and performance of household biosand water filters in differing temperatures

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The household biosand filter (BSF) is a highly utilized point-of-use water treatment tool. The effect of ambient temperature on the ability of the BSF to remove microbes from water is unclear. Model filters were distributed among different temperature-controlled laboratories and dosed daily with surface water amended with sewage. Comparison of the total coliform and Escherichia coli counts in the influent versus effluent revealed an immediate drop in the removal efficiencies of filters held in colder rooms. This performance difference, however, became less pronounced over the course of the experiment until no significant performance difference was detected between filters regardless of their ambient temperature, perhaps due to microbial adaptation within the BSFs. Subsequently, two-thirds of the filters were exposed to freezing temperatures, thawed, and re-tested for microbial removal. All filters exposed to freezing temperatures showed significant drops in microbial removal compared to control filters. Filters exposed to the most extreme temperatures showed the greatest drop in performance.

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