Comparative Analysis of Three Sustainable Point of Use Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Developing Nations

EPA Grant Number: SU831831
Title: Comparative Analysis of Three Sustainable Point of Use Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Developing Nations
Investigators: Sobsey, Mark D. , Whittington, Dale
Current Investigators: Sobsey, Mark D. , Stauber, Christine , Whittington, Dale , Brown, Joe , Casanova, Lisa , Elliott, Mark
Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2004 through April 30, 2005
Project Amount: $9,994
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


More than 1 billion people in the developing world lack access to safe, reliable sources of drinking water. Unsafe water takes a toll not only on human health but also on individuals' economic productivity. Illness from waterborne disease robs people of time and energy that could be devoted to activities that improve their economic status. The solution to the problem of waterborne gastrointestinal illness is to provide universal access to safe, disease-free, reliable piped water supplies. But the costs of providing the necessary infrastructure are often prohibitive for communities in less developed nations. The goal of point of use (POU) technology is to allow people who only have access to unsafe water sources to improve the quality of their water by treating it in the home. New and improved POU technologies are emerging that hold great promise for households in the developing world. The environmental impact of POU manufacture and use is minimal, but the benefits from reducing dissemination of waterborne disease among people and their spread through the environment are substantial. There is a critical need to determine the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of these emerging POU technologies. The purpose of this research project is to determine and compare the costs, health and economic benefits, and performance effectiveness in improving water quality of three point of use drinking water treatment technologies intended for the developing world. The concept and validation of POU household drinking water treatment as appropriate, effective, affordable and sustainable technology for the developing world is relatively new, and attempts to promote and distribute these technologies on a large scale have just begun. A comparative cost-effectiveness analysis of the emerging POU technologies that we are proposing has not been done. The first goal of the initial stage of this project is to measure the effectiveness of these three POU technologies for improving water quality. The second goal of the initial stage is to conduct comparative cost-effectiveness analysis of the three systems. The project will also be integrated into the university curriculum through classes and laboratory training programs. Student understanding of the role of sustainable POU technology will be enhanced when they use the data from this project to provide critical information to aid and development organizations and communities to help them decide which POU technologies can best meet their needs. This research fills an important gap in current knowledge of POU drinking water technologies.

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, treatment, health effects, RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Environmental Chemistry, Arsenic, Risk Assessments, Environmental Monitoring, Water Pollutants, Drinking Water, monitoring, well water, exposure, arsenic monitoring, arsenic removal, point of use, human exposure, contaminant removal, drinking water treatment, human health, water treatment, other - risk management

Relevant Websites:

Phase 2 Abstract
Phase 2 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report
  • P3 Phase II:

    Comparative Analysis of Three Sustainable Point of Use Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Developing Nations  | Final Report