Biological Sand Filters: Low-Cost Bioremediation Technique for Production of Clean Drinking Water

August 7, 2014 · 0 comments

Biological Sand Filters: Low-Cost Bioremediation Technique for Production of Clean Drinking Water. Current Protocols in Microbiology, May 2014.

Michael Lea

The burden of microbiologically contaminated water is borne most heavily by the rural (largest, 80%) and peri-urban (fastest-growing) populations without access to safe water in developing countries—all need microbiologically clean water to sustain their lives and secure their livelihoods.

There is conclusive evidence that biological sand (biosand) filters are capable of dramatically improving the microbiological quality of drinking water. Biosand filters are based on a centuries-old bioremediation concept: water percolates slowly through a layer of filter medium (sand), and microorganisms form a bacteriological purification zone atop and within the sand to efficiently filter harmful pathogens from microbiologically contaminated water. Household-scaled biosand filters are a small adaptation of traditional large, slow sand filters such that they can uniquely be operated intermittently.

To use the simple, yet effective, on-demand biofiltration intervention, a person simply pours contaminated water into the household biosand filter and immediately collects treated water.

The purpose of the following comprehensive protocols is to facilitate knowledge transfer with the goal to empower vulnerable, poorest-of-poor populations in rural and peri-urban communities of developing countries, and to also promote using naturally occurring biology and readily available materials that they already possess as a cost-effective practical approach to combat poverty and inequality and achieve the health benefits of safe water by developing their own household water security solutions.

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