New Solution Could Provide Affordable, Safe Drinking Water to Rural Areas

foamwaterfiltrationSafe, clean drinking water is something that’s paramount for healthy living, and yet one out of every nine people in the world lacks access to it. There are approximately 884 million people around the globe relying on unimproved sources of drinking water — and as a result, a child dies of a water-related disease every minute.

That’s what a team from Michigan State University is hoping to change after studying a novel foam water filtration system that could be used even in extremely rural areas.

“The foam filter is the first of its kind to address a wide range of the biological and economic factors that hinder development of remote water filtration systems,” Joan Rose, Homer Nowlin Chair in water research and an author of a newly published study on the filter, told MSU Today, the university’s news service, April 29. “This filter is easier to use and more effective than traditional methods.”

Essentially, the foam filter, manufactured by Amway, takes the same principles used by municipal water treatment facilities and reforms them into a portable system. That includes a biological layer that uses organisms living in the foam to attack dangerous pathogens, reducing protozoa, bacteria and viruses as the water passes through.

It’s also an affordable system.

A full report on the filter’s performance and potential has been published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.


Concerns Closer to Home

Most high-profile efforts to provide safe water target communities abroad, but many Americans might be surprised to find out that water insecurity is a problem closer to home, as well.

A full one million Californians, many of them minorities living in rural communities a few hours outside major cities, lack access to drinking water that isn’t contaminated by arsenic — a poison that is only concentrated by processes such as boiling.

Various government agencies have taken steps just in the last few years to reduce contamination of drinking water through steps such as requiring that all drinking water systems use lead-free compression fittings, and new partnerships are arising between public and private entities to address water quality in rural areas of the United States.