Water-purification plant the size of a fast-food ketchup packet saves lives

September 8, 2013, American Chemical Society

An ambitious partnership among more than 100 organizations and governments led by Procter & Gamble's (P&G's) nonprofit program, Children's Safe Drinking Water (CSDW), has helped provide more than 6 billion quarts of clean drinking water to families in developing countries, saving an estimated 32,000 lives. And they're just getting started.

CSDW Manager Allison Tummon Kamphuis, R.N., M.B.A., today described the organization's latest accomplishments and future goals at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. The meeting, which features almost 7,000 presentations on new discoveries in chemistry and other topics, continues here through Thursday.

Tummon Kamphuis explained that diarrhea from contaminated drinking water is second only to pneumonia as a cause of childhood deaths worldwide. More than 2,000 children die every day as a result of diarrheal illnesses. To reduce that toll, P&G in 2012 pledged to deliver 2 billion quarts of clean water every year to developing countries by 2020, which would save one life every hour. An ambitious goal for a young program started in 2004, but CSDW is well on its way to achieving it by wide distribution of water-purification sachets the size of a fast-food ketchup packet.

"The real key to us achieving numbers like that and providing that much water and having the estimated health impact that we report is really partnership," said Tummon Kamphuis.

CSDW reached a milestone in May, when the packets, called the P&G Purifier of Water, produced their 6 billionth quart of sparkling clean water.

The foundation of CSDW's work dates back to the mid-1990s, when P&G partnered with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find a simple, inexpensive water-purification technology that could be used anywhere in the world. By the early 2000s, they had perfected the water-purification packets, which transform cloudy, brown water into crystal-clear, drinkable water that meets all the requirements for drinking water.

"We call it a mini-water-treatment plant in a packet," Tummon Kamphuis said. The powder essentially performs the job of a municipal treatment facility but on a much smaller—and portable—scale.

The chemistry is impressive, she said, yet the application is impressively simple. It involves pouring the contents of one packet, which weighs less than an ounce, into a bucket of 10 quarts of water and stirring. Dirt, parasites and other material drop to the bottom, as this video demonstrates, and disease-causing microbes die.

To meet the program goal of saving one life every hour by 2020, P&G has established a three-pronged strategy, with one step already complete. In November 2012, they finished building a new facility in Singapore to ramp up production of the water-purifier packets. Additionally, CSDW, which has worked in 71 countries, plans to expand distribution even further. They also plan to invest more in raising public awareness of the need for clean .

An ACS program, Coins for Cleaner Water, supports CSDW's efforts. The P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, a 501c3 program, will receive the Howard Fawcett Award from the ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety.

Explore further: Papaya-clay combo could cut cost of water purification in developing countries

More information: Abstract:

Scaling up efforts to provide more than 100 million water purification packets every year

Household water treatment technologies have been shown to dramatically improve the microbiological safety of drinking water and reduce diarrheal illness. A not-for-profit effort, the Children's Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) Program, is an effort to provide a coagulation/disinfection technology developed by P&G to people in the developing world. The small sachets of powdered product contain the same chemical ingredients used in municipal water systems including ferric sulfate as a coagulant and calcium hypochlorite as a disinfectant. The water purification packets are approved as a microbiological purifier of water by the US EPA and meet the WHO guidelines for a protective household water treatment technology. The CSDW Program also seeks to build awareness of the global water crisis and promote a variety of solutions to help address the crisis. The P&G technology, developed in collaboration with the CDC, was recently renamed to P&G Purifier of Water in order to more clearly build company reputation and thereby help ensure sustained funding. Established in 2004, the effort has grown exponentially in the last 9 years providing a cumulative total of more than 600 million water purification packets or 6 billion liters of clean drinking water. The growth of the program has been achieved through response to major disasters and through integration with global health initiatives including helping people living with HIV/AIDS and helping malnourished children. At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative, P&G announced its intent to provide 2 billion liters of clean drinking water every year by 2020—enough clean water to save one life every hour in the developing world through the CSDW Program. The progress to date to realize this "save one life every hour" target will be reviewed including new efforts to raise awareness of the global water crisis.

Related Stories

US drinking water sanitation still a concern: CDC

September 5, 2013

(HealthDay)—While U.S. water sanitation has improved, bacteria-laden drinking water continues to cause disease outbreaks, according to a report released Thursday by federal health officials.

Meeting the 'grand challenge' of a sustainable water supply

May 22, 2013

Scientists and engineers must join together in a major new effort to educate the public and decision makers on a crisis in providing Earth's people with clean water that looms ahead in the 21st century. That's the focus of ...

Recommended for you

New fuel cell technology runs on solid carbon

January 22, 2018

Advancements in a fuel cell technology powered by solid carbon could make electricity generation from resources such as coal and biomass cleaner and more efficient, according to a new paper published by Idaho National Laboratory ...

Bio-renewable process could help 'green' plastic

January 19, 2018

When John Wesley Hyatt patented the first industrial plastic in 1869, his intention was to create an alternative to the elephant tusk ivory used to make piano keys. But this early plastic also sparked a revolution in the ...

Simulations show how atoms behave inside self-healing cement

January 19, 2018

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a self-healing cement that could repair itself in as little as a few hours. Wellbore cement for geothermal applications has a life-span of only 30 ...

Looking to the sun to create hydrogen fuel

January 18, 2018

When Lawrence Livermore scientist Tadashi Ogitsu leased a hydrogen fuel-cell car in 2017, he knew that his daily commute would change forever. There are no greenhouse gases that come out of the tailpipe, just a bit of water ...

A new polymer raises the bar for lithium-sulfur batteries

January 18, 2018

Lithium-sulfur batteries are promising candidates for replacing common lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles since they are cheaper, weigh less, and can store nearly double the energy for the same mass. However, lithium-sulfur ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (10) Sep 08, 2013
There is nothing about this article that is not suspicious, if not non credible.
Among other things, no corporation does anything "non profit". The way things are set up, they couldn't. Big money is about big favors to cronies, and arranging huge sums to be paid to crony corporations to develop and distribute the water cleansing packets represents at least lucrative good will for Procter & Gamble.
Notice the conniving tactic of aiming clean water only at children. Adults deserve consideration, too, but craven lies frequently tend to invoke solely visceral considerations.
If you think a chemical safe for human consumption will make contaminants precipitate out and kill all contagion, you may be as stupid as the New World Order needs you to be.
If this chemical will kill all contagion, why didn't they make a kitchen spray out of it, instead of allowing the ruckus about not washing your chicken?
1 / 5 (3) Sep 08, 2013
So 2000 die every day--and they are going to help one every hour. What about the other 1976?
not rated yet Sep 08, 2013
When will these packets become available to backpackers and your average tourist? This isn't just a third-world problem. "The chemistry is impressive" according to the article, but there's no explanation. Trade secret, right?
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 08, 2013
From the abstract:
The small sachets of powdered product contain the same chemical ingredients used in municipal water systems including ferric sulfate as a coagulant and calcium hypochlorite as a disinfectant.
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 09, 2013
It's aimed at kids because kids die from dehydration due to diarrhea at a much higher rate than adults. It is often not the diarrhea that kills but this dehydration - and it's hard to rehydrate with infected, contaminated, or polluted water.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.