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The Florida-based non-governmental organization Gift of Water, Incorporated (GWI) produces, distributes, and provides technical assistance on household water filtration systems in rural Haiti. The GWI purifier utilizes chlorine in the form of bleach for disinfection, a cotton filter for sediment removal, and a granulated activated carbon (GAC) filter for chemical removal. Because of the chlorination step, GWI is concerned with the possible production of trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs are disinfection by-products (DBPs) associated with potential human health effects.

During the month of January, 2001, water sources in Haiti were visited and sampled. Raw source waters were analyzed for physical parameters, and purified finished waters were collected for analysis at MIT. Results of that analysis determined that no finished water sample was above World Health Organization (WHO) guideline values for concentrations of the four individual THMs. In addition, only one finished water sample was above the WHO guideline value and United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standard for total THM (TTHM) concentration. TTHM concentration correlated with the total usage of the carbon filter, and conductivity of the water, as shown in the following equation:

TTHM(μg/L) = 0.14 (Total Usage) + 21 (Conductivity) 9.6R2=0.780

The most important variable in TTHM concentration was determined to be total usage of the GAC filter. Reliable GAC filter replacement is thus critical to maintaining low concentrations of THMs in finished waters in Haiti.

In addition, critical factors that lead to GWI program success were investigated during the field visits in January. Three critical factors were determined necessary for successful implementation of the purifier program into the community: dedicated and responsible staff, planned distribution of purifiers, and purifiers as part of a larger community development initiative.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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