Biosand Water Filter Evaluation: Pilot Study of Field Use Indicators in Cyegera, Rwanda

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Diarrheal diseases are a global public health burden, killing 1.8 million people annually. Diarrhea disproportionately affects children and those in poverty. Most diarrheal cases can be prevented through safe drinking water, basic hygiene and/or sanitation measures, with drinking water interventions having the most impact on reducing diarrheal disease. There is no generally agreed-upon field method for determining biosand water filter effectiveness that is usable in low-resource communities. A pilot study was conducted of potential field use indicators, including the Colilert coliform presence/absence (P/A) test, hydrogen sulfide, alkalinity, hardness, pH, and fluorescently labeled latex microspheres. The study included both laboratory and field testing. The Colilert P/A test had the highest correlation to the United States Environmental Protection Agency standard method (IDEXX Quanti-trays), but more data are needed before making a recommendation. This study adds to understanding about evaluation of biosand water filters and provides preliminary data to address the need for a field use indicator for biosand water filters.