Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flood relief:Solar Disinfection of Water

Take normal used mineral water bottle,remove label,wash it with whatever contaminated water that is available,fill it with contaminated water,cap the bottle,put the bottle under sun for six hours,water is disinfected.Drink it as it is or after letting it cool a bit.

Too simple and too good to be true.But it is true.I have myself done it and got it tested.My wife Dr.Meher who is a qualified and experienced physician has checked it and approves it.It is a WHO/UNICEF approved method of disinfecting water being used normally by the poor in about 30 countries of Asia,Africa and Latin America ,including India, Indonesia and Brazil.By now millions of users are using it normally and routinely.Discovered rather late in 1980s,the process is being developed and marketed by a water research institute based in Switzerland called SODIS/AWEAG.The reader can go to their website or Wiki for verifying what I am saying and getting more details about it.

The disinfecting quality of sunlight has been widely known in our society for long.Old stored clothes are usually put in sunlight by mothers and grannies for removing odour and possible infections.Scientific basis of the efficacy and working of sunlight for water disinfection is now well established through research.Ultra-violet rays of certain wave length have been known to have disinfectant qualities.UV(320-450 nm) kills and immobilizes pathogens.UV disinfection system have been in the market for quite some time now and are a standard equipment but may cost a lot of money.Sun has the same UV light in the same required wavelength and it is free.

We need it today more than any body else.Water purification tablets and mineral water is being supplied.There are 20 million people who have been affected ,which is more than a whole country population of many countries.We are falling short of such supplies and should start popularising the solar method.A lot of used mineral water bottles should already be available in the system,as these have been supplied to the victims.Volunteers can collect such bottles from restaurants,hotels and clubs.Even new unfilled bottles can be procured .There is enough capacity in the country.

The need of the hour is that the media spread the word.Universities,volunteers and NGO get familiarized themselves and offer training and demonstration to the flood victims.Provincial and local governments and NDMA should adopt this method and popularize it among flood victims.Time is too short.Many flood victims are drinking contaminated water.Disease and death may follow, on a hitherto unknown scale,however used to we may have become to it.

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