Fear the Florescent Water
Today Barrett and I decided to drop by our friends lab, Mr. Blodgett, he is an experienced biochemist and he runs a non profit called Bright Water that focuses on making sure water is clear of pathogens in third world countries. Nepal is going to have some risk areas for a pathogen called cholera, this can be very deadly! There is a very important distinction between his work and that of non profits bringing water to remote areas and I believe it is exceptionally important. Having access to water is only step one, what is ignored is the cleanliness of that water. It’s great to have water but if it makes you sick then that’s not helping anybody. The inherent problem with this is that to test for these pathogens it usually requires an expensive lab in a different geographic location as well as an economically and time intensive process for the testing, these are two large barriers for a poor country. The Bright water foundation has developed a portable test. It uses your own body heat to incubate the samples, thus removing the need for expensive lab equipment, and can have results within 18 hours of incubation, much faster than other testing methods. Best part? that costs just $2. This portable test uses a two step verification method. First, it takes a sample of water between 1 and 10 ml and places it on a Petree dish. If this water is contaminated within a certain level it shows signs of E-coli. E-coli while not inherently dangerous, acts as a strong indicator of other pathogens like cholera being in the water. The second step, in case the Petri dish becomes contaminated, builds moisture, or otherwise malfunctions is a foolproof check for E-coli.
It takes a 10 ml water sample and puts in to a vial with an enzyme to break apart the proteins that would indicate the presence of ecoli. If the water turns yellow and glows under a UV light has E-coli and is therefore high risk for other pathogens. Therefore it would be best to treat the water. And luckily with a little bit of knowledge and some inexpensive products it can be treated easily!
Here are the four main methods I gleaned, #1 being the best for a place that can’t afford filters or does not have enough fuel wood for boiling their water. That is why Bright Water focuses on testing and then treating with chlorine or pasteurization.
#4: Distillation (similar to #2)
The pathogens we are looking to kill just so happen to die at temperatures above 149 degrees farenheight. Cholera, hepatitis B, typhoid etc. With the solar heater pictured above this temperature is easily attainable and requires no use of fuel wood, reducing pollution, and does not use expensive products. (Just cardboard and foil).