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How Water-Filter can be Helpful in Disaster Areas


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Why Filtrate Water?

Well the answer to that question is obvious. First, even if it is actually healthy, no one will drink water, which smells like old eggs or has a more brownish or green look (Spellman, 2018) . Second, water really can be contaminated. The extracted statistic from the American Water Works Association in table 1, shows that even tab-water is not always healthy as assumed.

Agent Number of Outbreaks Percentage Number of Illness Cases
Unknown 50 25% 2761
Bacteria
Legionella spp.
E. coli O157:H7
Campylobacter spp.
Shigella spp
Salmonella spp
Vibrio cholerae
63 31% 3423
Viruses
Norovirus
Hepatetis A
17 8% 3636
Parasites
Giardia intestinalis (G. lamblia)
Cryptosporidium parvum
Entamoeba histolytica
Naegleria fowleri
35 17% 407001
Mixed Microbe Groups 4 2% 1698
Chemicals
Copper
Nitrate/nitrite
Sodium hydroxide
Lead
Flouride
Soap/cleaning product
34 17% 300
Total 203 100% 418819

Table 1 Agents Causing Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in the United States and Territories, 1993-2006 (Edzwald, 2011, p.2.4)

Table 1 is showing that between 1993 and 2006 just considering the US, there have been roughly 420.000 cases where people got sick because of drinking tab-water. With that it is easy to imagine, that drinking water directly from natural sources, could lead to even more cases of people getting diseases. Normally water-supplies have their source rather in groundwater or in surface water. Naturally these waters contain different microorganisms. Not all these microorganisms are harming humans as a pathogen. For example, do some of these microorganisms help other organisms with the digestion of special substances with splitting up certain molecules. This goes so far that even the existence of some animals is dependent on these microorganisms. But there are also microorganisms, which are harming our health. It is necessary that these harmful microorganisms get separated from filtrated water. To understand how these microorganisms can be filtrated, in the following I will explain the characteristics of different types of water-contamination. (Spellman, 2018)

Graphic showing sizes of different microorganisms

Figure 1 Sizes of different microorganisms

Bacteria

Bacteria lives at least 3.660 million years on earth. They existed 1.100 million years after earth started to be. Approximately, bacteria have a diameter of 200µm and multiply by splitting their cells. They’re existing now in almost every environment and climate on earth, also on the human-skin and in the human-body. Creating disease is not the main characteristic of bacteria. Only some of them are creating sickness and can have a deadly impact on us. Because of a possible deadly impact, it is essentially to check if water contains pathogens in form of bacteria before drinking it. (Wassenaar, 2012)

Viruses

The definition of viruses is calling them infectious obligate intracellular parasites. Parasites, because they act only on their own relief. While not a living being, the viral genome contains DNA and RNA. Viruses multiply by infesting a host cell and injecting viral nucleic acids and proteins, which with the help of cellular mechanisms are causing a synthesis of new viruses with the DNA and RNA of the first genome. This new virus will infest a new host cell, so that the infection cycle will start over again. (Ackermann et al., 2016, p.12ff)

Because humans are composed of cells, they also can be infested by viruses. But it is to mention, that not every contact with a virus can cause an outbreak of disease. Spellman explains in his book "The Drinking Water Handbook" that there is only a 1% chance to get infected by a virus while getting in contact with it and even then, there is only a 2% chance to get sick after being infected. In other words, with 5.000 humans getting in contact with a virus, it is likely that only one of them will get sick. Sometimes even bacteria are getting infected by viruses, so that bacteria, which is harmless for humans turns into a pathogen, which transports viruses.

Graphic showing infection cycle explained in the previous paragraph

Figure 2 Virus infection possibility

Another problem with viruses is, that with a range between 20nm to 1µm they are way smaller than bacteria, which makes it more difficult to detect them. (Spellman, 2018, p.105ff)

Parasites

In table 1 the highest number of pathogens are with the parasites. Parasites existence depends on the life of other creatures. Backwards the infested creature has no advantages by getting infested, it rather gets harmed by it.

Parasite is a generic name, even bacteria sometimes shows parasitic properties, with that said there are different ways parasites do harm their host. Some do destroy cells and organs mechanically, other do stimulate tissues to multiply and induct in the extreme case malicious tumors. Because they are regarded as food competitors, important groups of substances could be revoked from the host. Via metabolism toxic chemicals can occur. Also, parasites can transport bacteria or other pathogens, which will cause secondary infections with a greater damage to the host. (Mehlhorn, 2012, p.6ff)

Chemicals

Because of industrialization plastic waste, radioactive materials, oil and other pollutants are getting into water. Natural water sources are rare to find in a not contaminated state. Drinking-water sources inescapable must be filtered to avoid harmful side effects by chemical contamination. (Spellman, 2018, p.170ff)




Ackermann, Mathias; Fraefel, Cornel; Tobler, Kurt: Allgemeine Virologie, Zürich (utb.), 2016
Edzwald, James K.: Water Quality & Treatment, A Handbook on Drinking Water (Sixth Edition), Denver, Colorado (Mc Graw Hill), 2011
Kumar, Jyoti Kishen; Pandit, Anruddha Bhalchandra: Drinking Water Disinfection Techniques, Boca Raton (CRC Press), 2013
Mehlhorn, Heinz: Die Parasiten der Tiere: Erkankungen erkennen, bekämpfen und vorbeugen (7. Auflage), Düsseldorf (Springer Spektrum), 2012
Spellman, Frank R.: The Drinking Water Handbook (Third Edition), Boca Raton (CRC Press), 2018
Wassenaar, Trudy M.: Bacteria: The Benign, the Bad, and the Beautiful, New Jersey (Wiley-Blackwell), 2012

2020-05-16
David Marquardt

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