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A scientist at Michigan Technological University (MTU) has discovered a simple way to turn muddy water — such as water gathered from rivers, streams and boreholes — into drinkable water by using table salt.There is already a simply process to purify clear water, called the solar water disinfection method (SODIS), in which water is put in transparent plastic bottles and left in the sun for six hours so heat and ultraviolet radiation can kill most pathogens that cause diarrhoea.
MTU associate professor Joshua Pearce found that SODIS can be used on water that has been made murky by clay, but only after it is treated with table salt because salt causes the clay particles to stick together and settle out.
According to Michigan Tech, “nearly 80 per cent of disease in developing countries is linked to bad water and sanitation” and diarrhoea kills 4,000 children a day in Africa.
Pearce, who has drunk the salted-water, said that it has a lower sodium concentration than Gatorade and that he would use it “no question” if he was somewhere with no clean water.
Pearce’s paper, “optimising the Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) Method by Decreasing Turbidity with NaCl,” will appear in the Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development in June.
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