These researchers have developed a low-cost water purifier from an age-old Indian tradition

Bengaluru : Padma Venkat, 53, and her team of researchers at Transdisciplinary University (TDU), Bengaluru, have worked on ways to develop a low-cost water purifier that can be accessible to low income groups. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 1.8 million people consume contaminated drinking water, and an effective solution to this could reduce the number by over 45 percent. Every day, 4,000 children die of diarrhoea globally; one out of these five children is an Indian.

The idea and research

Based on the appalling statistic that diarrhea, a water-borne disease, is the leading cause of death from consuming contaminated drinking water among children in developing countries, Padma thought that there was a need to build a sustainable and affordable product that could curb the problem. “Safe drinking water is a huge problem in India, we don’t have a solution that is sustainable. All kinds of technologically advanced solutions exist, however these solutions are not able to reach the segment that requires it the most,” says Padma.

The idea for TamRas comes from the traditional Indian practice of storing water in copper or silver containers. The Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions focusses on the Indian medical heritage, so I thought about how these methods could be leveraged for affordable heathcare solutions,” she says.

“Ayurveda texts mention how copper is good for the health. Even today we know that copper is an essential micro-element needed for various physiological functions of the human body. So a little bit of copper that is leached into the water during the purification process is good,” she adds.

Once the research was complete, she and her team took the product for field tests with the help of the Grand Challenges Canada grant and with assistance from professors of McGill University. These tests were carried out in Kenya and India to demonstrate the anti-rotavirus and anti-bacterial effects of copper. It was found that there was a significant drop in the bacterial count in the water. Additionally, they also monitored the diarrheal incidents in Kenya and found out that the number of children under 5 years of age affected by diarrhea went down by 37 percent.

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