Global Survey of Water Quality Using Point-of-Use Water Filters

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Aaron Best, Biology, Dr. Jon Peterson, Geology; Dr. Mike Pikaart, Chemistry; Dr. Graham Peaslee, Chemistry; Sarah Brokus; Chelsea Payne; Randy Wade

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Waterborne illnesses continue to be a major global health concern. A leading strategy for providing clean drinking-water is the use of point-of-use water filters. Sawyer Products, Inc., a privately owned outdoor product company, launched Sawyer International to bring 0.1 micron hollow fiber membrane filters to people in need of safe, clean drinking-water. These filters remove harmful bacteria, protozoa, and cysts like Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Vibrio cholerae, and Giardia. Additionally, Sawyer is providing polyurethane foam filters designed to remove metals known to be harmful in excess concentrations, including arsenic and cadmium. Hope College, in collaboration with Sawyer, is conducting a global water quality survey that will study drinking water sources from over 30 countries. We have partnered with NGO’s to deliver water filter kits to sites, collect and process water samples in the field, and return the filters to Hope College for analysis of microbial populations, classes of antibiotics, and chemicals found in the water. In addition, we will conduct an in-depth study of the introduction of filters to all households in 20 villages in Fiji. Samples will be obtained from 2 water sources per village in order to assess water quality and effective removal of potential pathogens from the water sources; surveys to assess the health status of members of the villages will be administered. Two more visits will be made to villages at 2-4 weeks and 8 weeks post filter introduction to obtain additional water samples and survey data. We anticipate that introduction of filters into villages without access to clean water will improve the health of residents. The data obtained will allow us to describe biological and chemical properties of global water sources that have adverse effects on the health and wellbeing of residents and give evidence for the efficacy of point of use water filters.


This research was supported by Sawyer Products, Inc.

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