205925 Evaluation of soap as the cause of premature blockage in personal water filters

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ashley R. Meinert , Department of Chemistry, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
Gary D. Michels, Dr , Department of Chemistry, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
Rural families in the Dominican Republic have limited access to a continuous supply of potable water. Personal water filters, consisting of two 5-gallon buckets, a ceramic filtering element, and a spigot, are used for water purification. Field experience shows that approximately 20% of the ceramic elements prematurely become blocked and filter slowly or do not filter. Because of early obstruction of the filtering element and cultural tendency to clean regularly with soap, experiments were performed to determine if soap is the cause of this problem. Six personal filters were assembled and allowed to filter multiple trials of water from a local source. In three of the units, the ceramic filtering element was cleaned with soap prior to each trial, and in the other three filters the ceramic element was rinsed with water prior to each trial. After 12 hours the volume of water purified was measured. Following 19 consecutive trials, the ceramic elements cleaned with soap consistently filtered 10% more water than those not cleaned with soap. After scrubbing the non-soap filtering elements with a brush to remove sediment buildup, the six filters filtered at similar rates. These experiments indicate that soap does not have a negative effect on the filtration rate and that soap is not likely the cause of the premature blockage of the filtering element.

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate the effect of soap on the rate of water filtration in personal water filters using ceramic filtering elements. Demonstrate efficiency of personal water filters using ceramic filtering elements.

Keywords: Drinking Water Quality, Sustainability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently working toward attaining a Biochemistry Degree from Creighton University. I was a participant in the Institute for Latin American Concern Water Quality Program in Spring 2008. Since the program, I have been performing Directed Independent Research on the premature blockage and efficiency of personal water filters.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.