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Microbiological Effectiveness of Mineral Pot Filters in Cambodia

Publication in Review
Authors: Joe M. Brown, Chai Ratana, Alice Wang and Mark D. Sobsey
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Household water treatment (HWT) may represent a promising interim approach to securing safe drinking water. Among the most widely used technologies for HWT in Asia are the so-called Mineral Pot Filters (MPFs), which are made and distributed by the private sector. Performance testing data for these devices is not publicly available and so their usefulness in treating water is unknown. We purchased three types of MPFs available on the Cambodian market for systematic testing in reducing bacteria, virus, and protozoan surrogate microbes in the laboratory. Results over the 1500 liter testing period indicate that the devices tested were highly effective in reducing E. coli (99.99%+), moderately effective in reducing the bacteriophage MS2 (99%+), and somewhat effective against B. atrophaeus, a spore-forming bacterium we used as a surrogate for protozoa (88%+). Treatment mechanisms for all filters included ceramic and activated carbon filtration. Our results suggest that these commercially available filters may be at least as effective against waterborne pathogens as other, locally available treatment options. More research is needed on the role these devices may play as interim solutions to the problem of unsafe drinking water in Cambodia and in the larger region.