This will save millions of lives: LifeStraw

  • Thread starter Ivan Seeking
  • Start date
In summary: I also wonder about the lifespan---it's one thing to say it filters 700 liters, but if the average person is drinking 2 liters a day, that's not even a year. That also doesn't sound like it's taking into account the fact that there are different levels of contamination in different areas.In summary, LifeStraw® is a portable water purification tool that effectively filters surface water and kills disease-causing microorganisms. It has been tested and proven to reduce bacteria levels and remove parasites, and can be used by both adults and children. However, it does not filter heavy metals and its lifespan may vary depending on the level of contamination in the water source.
  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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Q1. What is LifeStraw®?
LifeStraw® is a portable water purification tool that cleanses surface water and makes it safe for human consumption. It is just 25 cm long and 29 mm in diameter and can be hung around the neck. LifeStraw® requires no electrical power or spare parts.

Q2. What does LifeStraw® do?
LifeStraw® filters up to 700 litres of water and effectively removes most of the micro organisms responsible for causing waterborne diseases.

Q3. Which diseases will LifeStraw® prevent?
LifeStraw® kills disease causing micro organisms which spread diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, and cholera.

Q4. Which disease-causing micro organisms are filtered by LifeStraw® ?
LifeStraw® filters bacteria such as Shigella, Salmonella, Enterrococus, Staphylococcus Aureus and E .Coli.

Q5. Are there any tests to prove this?
LifeStraw® has been tested by independent and qualified research laboratories. Please see detailed test results.

Q6. How does LifeStraw® function?
LifeStraw® contains a specially developed halogen-based resin, an extraordinarily effective material that kills bacteria on contact. Textile pre-filters are used in the LifeStraw® to remove particles up to 15 microns. Active carbon withholds particles such as parasites.

Q7. What do the tests and research studies indicate?
The studies indicate the following:

• The level of bacteria in the water will be reduced to levels that will provide water safe for human consumption. ‘Safe' implies water from which any health risk is minimal.

• The particulate removal suggests that the number of any parasitic ova in raw water will also be reduced significantly.

• The released amount of iodine in water treated from LifeStraw® is not normally damaging to human health. (people having thyroid problems and allergic reaction to iodine must seek medical advice before using this tool.)

Q8. What is the life expectancy of the LifeStraw®?
One year from the start of usage (calculation based on consumption of 2 litre water per day) or 700 liters. Use beyond expiry will not deteriorate existing water quality.

Q9. What is the required daily water consumption?
The WHO default levels for the quantities of drinking water (reference to WHO drinking water quality guidelines Third edition 2004, Annex III), are:

• For a 10 kg child, 1 litre water per day - thus 700 days tool

• For a 60 kg adult, 2 litre water per day - thus a 350 days tool

Q10. Who can use the LifeStraw®?
Adults and children of any age can use the LifeStraw®, provided they have capacity to suck water through LifeStraw®.

Q11. How should LifeStraw® be used the first time?
First time users are advised to spit out the first couple of mouthfuls (40 ml) as a small amount of harmless black carbon water will be expelled on initial use. (See user instructions)

First time users may find it difficult to start sucking. This is because a natural brake on the flow of water has been put into the LifeStraw®, as a controlled flow between 100 ml to 150 ml per minute is needed to get the maximum benefit of the bacteria killing effect.

Q12. How can LifeStraw® be effectively utilised?
At regular intervals, it is recommended to blow out the last mouthful of water as well as some air through the LifeStraw®. This will clean the pre-filters of whatever sand, silt and debris that might have got stuck in the textile filters. (See user instructions)

Q13. Does LifeStraw® filter arsenic, iron, fluoride and other heavy metals?
No.

Q14. What is the impact of saline water on the lifetime of LifeStraw®?
It is expected that continuously drinking saline water through the LifeStraw® would reduce effective life to 350 litres.

Q15. Can I share my LifeStraw® with other people?
It is not recommended that you share your LifeStraw® with others . Any outside contamination of the LifeStraw® will not be compensated by inside purification.
http://www.lifestraw.com/

Approximate cost: $3.00 per year.
lifestraw_sm.jpg

http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2005/05/lifestraw.html
 
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  • #2
i think that will indeed save millions of lives. hopefully it will get many people to stop drinking bottled water, since so much oil gets used up (wasted imho) on disgustingly frivolous plastic bottles. (aquafina, dasani, etc etc)
 
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  • #3
There is no question that clean, affordable drinking water is essential to the health of our global community. But bottled water is not the answer in the developed world, nor does it solve problems for the 1.1 billion people who lack a secure water supply. Improving and expanding existing water treatment and sanitation systems is more likely to provide safe and sustainable sources of water over the long term. In villages, rainwater harvesting and digging new wells can create more affordable sources of water.

http://www.earth-policy.org/Updates/2006/Update51.htm
 
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  • #4
Well I hardly think that the people I see walking around with the bottled water, would be willing to drop to all fours and suck water out of a puddle. But the mental image was amusing.
For many people in the world, this could be a miracle. In areas of drought, or even flooding, it will save many lifes.
 
  • #5
I imagine there will be some interest for it as a wilderness survival tool as well. It basically sounds like a pocket-sized filter cartridge, similar to what any of those pitchers with water filters have.

The only thing I'm skeptical about is that it would have a full year of useful life. That would also likely depend on just how contaminated the water is and what is getting trapped in the filter. I wonder if it's been tested under "field" conditions? I would suspect that you wouldn't get more than a month of use, if that, before you'd have to suck so hard your head would feel like it was going to implode before you got water if you use it in muddy, dirty water sources like the one in the picture.
 
  • #6
Aren't regular filters just activated charcoal or dependent on relatively high pressure? This seems to be a new.

LifeStraw® contains a specially developed halogen-based resin, an extraordinarily effective material that kills bacteria on contact.

I too wondered about plugging, and it sounds like it's a little tough to use in the first place, but they do talk about blowing back through with each use to clean it, and they claim that one can even filter 350 liters of salt water through it! So, even if it was only good for half of that, at 2 liters per day we are still good to ninety days.

In either case, with the very low cost and all of the new billionares giving away their money, the many third world health problems resulting from contaminated water consumption could be eliminated as fast as these can be produced.

I guess this is another one for Bono and Oprah.
 
  • #7
I was just thinking that the price of the Iraq war to date would buy about one-hundred billion of these.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking said:
Aren't regular filters just activated charcoal or dependent on relatively high pressure? This seems to be a new.
I think you're right. But aren't there ones that filter out bacteria too? I don't know about killing the bacteria, but just fine enough to keep the bacteria from passing through it. I'd still want to test it before having to rely on it to see if one's head would implode before you got a good sip of water. Memories of trying to suck up McDonald's milkshakes through a straw as a kid come to mind. :smile:
 
  • #9
http://www.lifestraw.com/en/high/specs.asp

It's fine as long as the outer surface remains free of contaminants, particularly the end from which one drinks.
 
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  • #10
I'm allergic to iodine, found that out when they tried to do an iodine based test on me, I thought I was going to die.

I wonder how sick the "lifestraw" would make me?
 
  • #11
Funny thing about the iodine: Apparently many people in the third world would benefit from the small amount of iodine passed.
 
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  • #12
Evo said:
I'm allergic to iodine, found that out when they tried to do an iodine based test on me, I thought I was going to die.
Maybe you're just sensitive to an excess, or perhaps is was potassium if you were given KI. I seem to remember an allergy to bananas which contain potassium.

http://thyroid.about.com/cs/vitaminsupplement/a/iodine.htm
Iodine is an essential element that enables the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.

Three iodine molecules are added to make T3 (triiodothyronine), and four for T4 (thyroxine) -- the two key hormones produced by the thyroid gland -- so iodine is essential to the production of these two hormones of the master gland of metabolism.
I can't see how someone would be allergic to an element that is vital/essential to a particular biological function. What about iodized salt?

Interesting article - http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=18119
North Americans take in relatively high amount of I. Maybe that explains some things. :rolleyes:
 
  • #13
Ivan Seeking said:
Funny think about the iodine: Apparently many people in the third world would benefit from the small amount of iodine passed.
Because they are generally deficient in I. Iodized salt has made a big difference in Afghanistan, where the diet has been deficient in I for decades. One comment I heard recently from a doctor is that the average IQ (or something to that effect) in Afghanistan has been suppressed due to lack of iodine in the diet. I'll try and find the source.
 
  • #14
Astronuc said:
Because they are generally deficient in I. Iodized salt has made a big difference in Afghanistan, where the diet has been deficient in I for decades. One comment I heard recently from a doctor is that the average IQ (or something to that effect) in Afghanistan has been suppressed due to lack of iodine in the diet. I'll try and find the source.
An insufficiency of thyroid hormones, brought on by iodine deficiency, can cause very severe problems with neural development in infants...depending on the extent of the deficiency. It is important for brain function in general.

Evo, I too am puzzled how you'd be allergic to iodine, because it is essential to have iodine in the diet. As has been suggested, either it's a sensitivity to excess or perhaps it was the form it was in.
 
  • #15
Moonbear said:
An insufficiency of thyroid hormones, brought on by iodine deficiency, can cause very severe problems with neural development in infants...depending on the extent of the deficiency. It is important for brain function in general.
Thanks Moonbear, that more accurately describes what was mentioned.

In the same talk, the doctor mentioned seeing health problems that he had never seen in the modern world - bruises, swollen joints, bleeding - especially gums. It turns out that the diet was deficient in Vitamin C - and hundreds/thousands were suffering from 'scurvy', which has not been seen in the industrial nations on such a scale for more than 100 years, probably almost 200 years.
 
  • #16
This [iodine induced allergic reactions] was a common problem for X-Ray people in that some of the contrast agents used contained high levels of iodine; which can cause a bad reaction in some people, including death. The contrast agents used today apparently mostly avoid this problem.
 
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  • #17
Ivan Seeking said:
This [iodine induced allergic reactions] was a common problem for X-Ray people in that some of the contrast agents used contained high levels of iodine; which can cause a bad reaction in some people, including death. The contrast agents used today apparently mostly avoid this problem.
Yep, it was for an x-ray, I'm assuming the dosage was pretty high.

Moonbear, I can tolerate the normal amounts of iodine in food.

The reason I was wondering at what level something like the LifeStraw would make me ill was this "The released amount of iodine in water treated from LifeStraw® is not normally damaging to human health. (people having thyroid problems and allergic reaction to iodine must seek medical advice before using this tool.) "
 
  • #18
The only place I can think of where this might be useful (and effective) is a refugee camp (if even that). It's not obvious to me that this will save millions of lives.

Also, the drop across a prefilter, charcoal filter and exchange resin bed with a cross section of a square inch is likely to be at least a few psi. That will take some serious sucking!
 
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  • #19
Gokul43201 said:
The only place I can see this being useful (and effective) is a refugee camp (if even that). It's not obvious to me that this will save millions of lives.

Also, the drop across a prefilter, charcoal filter and exchange resin bed with a cross secion of a square inch is likely to be at least a few psi. That will take some serious sucking!

That was my thought. Pucker up! :smile: That's why I was thinking more along the lines of wilderness survival...small and easy to pack in a kit so if you get lost in the woods, you don't have to worry about the source of water if you need to drink from a questionable stream or pond or puddle just to stay hydrated.
 
  • #20
Mr. Werner said an estimated 2.4 billion people lacked adequate sanitation, while 1.2 billion are without access to safe water. Some 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged into rivers and streams without any treatment and, worldwide, a child dies from a preventable waterborne illness about once every 10 seconds. Water-borne diseases include cholera, typhoid, bacillary dysentery, infectious hepatitis, and giardias, while major diseases caused by lack of water include (water-washed diseases) scabies, skin sepsis and ulcers, yaws, leprosy, trachoma, dysenteries and ascariasis.

Diarrhea causes 2 million deaths per year, mostly amongst children under the age of five (WHO, 2002). These deaths represent approximately 15% of all child deaths under the age of five in developing countries.

Water is implicated in 80% of all sickness and disease worldwide, while 19% of deaths from infectious diseases worldwide are water-related and water related diseases contribute to nearly 4 million child deaths each year. One encouraging statistic noted that clean water, sanitation and hygiene interventions reduce diarrheal disease on average by between one-quarter and one-third.
http://www.esemag.com/0604/lowtech.html
 
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  • #21
Also, in desperate situations I would imagine that people will hang water containers with tubes that feed water through the filters for a constant supply. Let gravity do the work.
 
  • #22
Gokul43201 said:
The only place I can think of where this might be useful (and effective) is a refugee camp (if even that). It's not obvious to me that this will save millions of lives.

Also, the drop across a prefilter, charcoal filter and exchange resin bed with a cross section of a square inch is likely to be at least a few psi. That will take some serious sucking!

Or drink the 3rd world water and die from basic infections.

I think its a very very very good idea.
 
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  • #23
Can they manufacture a version that doesn't require sucking? Will a small child be able to use the straw? The people most prone to illnesses, the young, elderly or weak may not be able to use it.
 
  • #24
Evo said:
Can they manufacture a version that doesn't require sucking? Will a small child be able to use the straw? The people most prone to illnesses, the young, elderly or weak may not be able to use it.

When you live in the 3rd world, you don't complain about having to suck on a straw to drink water to live.

There not going to plug it into their wall outlet and charge it. These people make less than a few pennies a day.

It has to be something simple, effective, and cheap so the governments can distribute it.

If you have not been to a 3rd world country, its hard to grasp what real poverty looks like.
 
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  • #25
cyrusabdollahi said:
If you have not been to a 3rd world country, its hard to grasp what real poverty looks like.
I've been to a third world country and witnessed horrible poverty and living conditions.

Did you read about the difficulty sucking through this straw?

"Q11. How should LifeStraw® be used the first time?
First time users are advised to spit out the first couple of mouthfuls (40 ml) as a small amount of harmless black carbon water will be expelled on initial use. (See user instructions)

First time users may find it difficult to start sucking. This is because a natural brake on the flow of water has been put into the LifeStraw®, as a controlled flow between 100 ml to 150 ml per minute is needed to get the maximum benefit of the bacteria killing effect."
 
  • #26
Evo said:
I've been to a third world country and witnessed horrible poverty and living conditions.

Did you read about the difficulty sucking through this straw?

"Q11. How should LifeStraw® be used the first time?
First time users are advised to spit out the first couple of mouthfuls (40 ml) as a small amount of harmless black carbon water will be expelled on initial use. (See user instructions)

First time users may find it difficult to start sucking. This is because a natural brake on the flow of water has been put into the LifeStraw®, as a controlled flow between 100 ml to 150 ml per minute is needed to get the maximum benefit of the bacteria killing effect."

Its not THAT bad. What is the alternative? Drink bad water and die. I don't think I would be complaining about using that straw if I was poor.
 
  • #27
cyrusabdollahi said:
Its not THAT bad. What is the alternative? Drink bad water and die. I don't think I would be complaining about using that straw if I was poor.
She's not talking about complaining about it, she's asking if it's physically possible for a child or the elderly to suck that hard. You can suffer in silence all you want, but if you can't get water through the thing, it's not going to help.
 
  • #28
Something is better than nothing, for the time being. Send them out by the billions, I say.

Worry about that stuff after. People are smart, they can improvise a way to get them to work if they have to.
 
  • #29
Evo said:
I've been to a third world country and witnessed horrible poverty and living conditions.
oh, c'mon, Evo, you only came to my house that one time - and I served you Triscuits and grape juice!
 
  • #30
cyrus said:
Something is better than nothing, for the time being. Send them out by the billions, I say.

Worry about that stuff after. People are smart, they can improvise a way to get them to work if they have to.
The idea would be to build water treatment plants, water distribution systems, and plumbing into houses. However, government corruption often precludes that. Money is either diverted to external or offshore bank accounts of leaders and cronies, or is spent on lavish lifestyles of a few, and/or spent on weapons and military equipment. At least two countries spend more on nuclear weapons development than they do on infrastructure that would greatly improve living conditions of the poorest.

Edit: I forgot the other part. Build sanitation/sewer systems. One of the biggest problems is that human and animal waste (including carcasses and rotted meat) finds its way into water systems (rivers, stream, lakes, wells (which maybe also be contaminated with heavy metals), . . .) which people use as water sources for drinking, cooking, washing. That has to stop!
 
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  • #31
cyrus said:
Something is better than nothing, for the time being. Send them out by the billions, I say.
At $3 each, if someone had $3 billion to spend on these things, surely it would be better to build water purification systems than just provide a temporary measure allowing people to drink from contaminated water sources.

As Astronuc points out, though, the bigger limitation is political. Having the money doesn't mean it gets used for the intended purpose or that aid is allowed passage to the people who need it.
 
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  • #32
The problem is that infrastructure is not a one-time charge, nor is it a localized problem to get water to all who need it. The demand for clean water is a global issue. You could not otherwise provide clean water to a billion people for three billion dollars. I would bet that the bill for water systems globally would amount to trillions.

A personal note: We are on a well and live in an area that has bad water - sulfur, iron, iron bacteria. Our twenty year chlorinated treatment and filter system [for one house] cost me about $10K to purchase, and probably another couple of hundred dollars a year to maintain. The total installation [building and cement work, power, permits, plumbing connections etc] cost about $20K.
 
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  • #33
I think preventing or mitigating contamination of water supplies would go along way to reduce water borne diseases.

One may remember wells that would dug in Bangladesh years ago. Everyone thought - Great! - Fresh water. What they didn't anticipate was the high levels of Arsenic in the water.

http://www.eng-consult.com/arsen.htm
http://www.sos-arsenic.net/
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/298/5598/1602
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2002/bangladesh.html

In addition to the wells, they needed appropriate filtration to remove the arsenic, or they need to find well sources without arsenic contamination.

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/05/02/aresenic_test.html
 
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  • #34
The need for clean water must be addressed on a global scale, but the LifeStraw will start saving lives as soon as it arrives where needed.

There has been a huge breakthrough in reverse osmosis systems that reduces the energy demand significantly. It involves a spinning filter technology that reclaims energy previously sacrificed. Does anyone know the name? I need to search... but it is exciting because energy is the problem here. I'll try to find a link.
 
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