Microbiological effectiveness of mineral pot filters in Cambodia. Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es3027852. Publication Date (Web): October 3, 2012.
Joseph Brown , Ratana Chai , Alice Wang , and Mark Sobsey
Mineral Pot Filters (MPFs) are household water treatment (HWT) devices that are manufactured and distributed by the private sector, with millions of users in Southeast Asia. Their effectiveness in reducing waterborne microbes has not been previously investigated. We purchased three types of MPFs available on the Cambodian market for systematic evaluation of bacteria, virus, and protozoan surrogate microbial reduction in laboratory challenge experiments following WHO recommended performance testing protocols.
Results over the total 1500 liter testing period per filter indicate that the devices tested were highly effective in reducing Esherichia coli (99.99%+), moderately effective in reducing bacteriophage MS2 (99%+), and somewhat effective against Bacillus atrophaeus, a spore-forming bacterium we used as a surrogate for protozoa (88%+). Treatment mechanisms for all filters included porous ceramic and activated carbon filtration.
Our results suggest that these commercially available filters may be at least as effective against waterborne pathogens as other, locally available treatment options such as ceramic pot filters or boiling. More research is needed on the role these devices may play as interim solutions to the problem of unsafe drinking water in Cambodia and globally.