Even with the "massive" 1700 person cryptosporidium outbreak
in New York State this past summer, the water quality problems of the developed world pale in comparison to the more than 1 billion people throughout the world without access to safe drinking water. A large percentage of these people suffer because their drinking supply is infected with bacteria, or microorganisms brought on by agricultural pollution and poor sanitation. But a much touted new device called the life straw seeks to give those billion a fresh look at water...The Lifestraw is a little longer than a toilet paper tube, and about the same diameter(the model shown above is an earlier prototype). Inside the tube, a series of mechanical screens, carbon particles, and resin beads filter and kill most pathogenic bacteria and microorganisms common in water systems throughout the world. Using a patented material called PuroTech Disinfecting Resin, the filters are rated for 700 liters of water -- approximately one year's use for a single individual. They require no training to use (just suck) and minimal maintenance (parent company Vestergaard Frandsen recommends periodically blowing the straw clear of water to clean the filters)
But perhaps most exciting is the cost: Only 2 dollars US if sold individually (presumably, volume discounting could apply). Obviously, this is a large amount of a subsistence farmer's income, but the amount of wages earned during the time lost to illness is probably comparable. And it's still awfully cheap for drinking water -- My water bill was 5 dollars US for just last month, and these last a year.
We're excited to see developments like this which have such potential for improving life quality. At the same time, we recognise that this product needs a philanthropist or great business plan behind it to make sure it gets to the right people. Keep an eye on this one. It's going to be big. :: Lifestraw at Gizmag