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Water purifiers for the poor fail to prove their worth

Many of the systems intended to provide clean water for families in some of the world's poorest communities may not work.

That's the conclusion of Paul Hunter, a microbiologist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, who has assessed past studies of the effectiveness of household water treatment (HWT) systems.

Most of these systems work either by disinfecting the water – using chlorine tablets or by allowing the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight to purify stored water – or by passing it through ceramic or sand filters to remove microorganisms.

Hunter says that many of the studies he analysed are too short-term to lead to meaningful conclusions. Worse, in some studies comparing new treatments with old ones, those gathering the data knew which was which. This risks biasing their conclusions.
 
 

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