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

EPA Grant Number: SU832463
Title: Comparative Analysis of Three Sustainable Point of Use Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Developing Nations
Investigators: Sobsey, Mark D. , Whittington, Dale
Institution: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: II
Project Period: October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2005) 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. The overarching goal of the entire proposed P3 project is to allow for a comprehensive comparison of effectiveness, health benefits, and cost-benefit relationships for these three POU technologies. In order to complete this comprehensive analysis begun in Phase I, we must fill three crucial data gaps: more complete data on the effectiveness of the biosand and ceramic filters in removing microbes from drinking water, rigorous documentation of the health benefits of these technologies under actual use conditions and cost-benefit analysis based on these health data. Phase II will fill these data gaps and allow for a comprehensive comparison of the effectiveness, costs, and benefits of all three of these technologies. Accordingly, the goals of Phase II are to characterize more completely the biosand filter’s performance in the laboratory and the field, to assess the ability of the BSF and ceramic filter to reduce diarrheal diseases of users and to perform a cost-benefit analysis of all three technologies using the data on health benefits collected in the field studies.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 20 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, treatment, health effects, cost-benefit, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Chemistry, Microbiology, Drinking Water, Environmental Engineering, alternative disinfection methods, ceramic filters, sustainable development, waterborne disease, comparative analysis, disinfection of waters, fecal contamination, Other - risk management, microbial risk management, point of use, biosand filtration, water disinfection, drinking water contaminants, drinking water treatment, human health

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • P3 Phase I:

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