May 302011

Given that approximately one sixth of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, it would obviously be a very good idea to create something that allows those people to easily and cheaply filter their local tainted water.

That was the thinking behind the LifeStraw. Developed by European disease control firm Vestergaard Frandsen, the simple device uses the company’s PuroTech Disinfecting Resin to kill water-borne bacteria on contact, while activated carbon captures organisms such as parasites. Individuals use the filter to drink directly out of polluted water bodies. Now, the larger-scale LifeStraw Family is being introduced in Kenya, where it could potentially save millions of lives … and reduce air pollution.

The technology

Utilizing the same filtering technology as the original LifeStraw, the LifeStraw Family is kept in the home, where tainted water is transported to it. Each unit is capable of filtering up to 18,000 liters (4,755 U.S. gallons) of water, which is said to be enough to meet the needs of a family of five, for up to three years. The device is claimed to filter out at least 99.999 percent of bacteria, protozoa, viruses, and parasites.

As part of its ongoing Carbon for Water program, Vestergaard Frandsen is in the process of supplying 90 percent of the homes in Western Province, Kenya, with 900,000 of the filters. The program should allow approximately 4.5 million Kenyans access to drinking water that meets EPA standards, for the first time.

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