Yuna Oh/ Apple Valley HS 12th Grade
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 780 million people lack access to an improved water source. Accessibility to fresh water is a necessity for survival, so this colossal number is unbelievable.
Even though the severity of the problem is not necessarily distributed evenly across the globe, if current trends continue to hold, it is more than possible for the impact of water shortage to continue to spread. Thus, it is imperative that these issues are addressed now.
Currently, many developing countries rely on the sun to disinfect their water. Clear plastic bottles are filled with contaminated water and are then exposed to sunlight for more than eight hours. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun disrupts the DNA of harmful pathogens which eventually gets rid of the harmful pathogens in the water. This SODIS method is highly utilized due to its low costs and easy access, but is problematic due to its slow process.
Other efforts to innovate better solutions in terms of cost and time effectiveness include introducing photocatalytic processes to SODIS and the Lifestraw.
In photocatalytic processes, titanium dioxide and zinc are coated on the interior of the plastic bottles to accelerate disinfection by introducing a catalyst. However, because the coating blocks UV rays, the catalysts have also been used by binding with pervious concrete and placed in the bottles or tubing to allow the rays in.
The Life Straw has also been broadly marketed for filtering out pathogens and preventing cholera by trapping germs in its fiber tubing. Only 22 cm long and 3 cm in diameter, it is portable and easily accessible. Although it removes parasites and bacteria, it is unable to filter any salt.
Although the current situation of fresh water availability in third world countries may be bleak, there are definite and innovative solutions that we can employ to save millions of lives. It is within our power to make these changes.
<Yuna Oh/ Apple Valley HS 12th Grade