U.S. Water News Online
LONDON -- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will give
$13 million to produce the world's first low-cost water quality
tests, a project aimed at decreasing child deaths caused by
waterborne disease in developing countries, the University of Bristol
The device, called Aquatest, would be similar to a home pregnancy
test, with results displayed as colored bands that would show if the
water was safe to drink. The device would also distinguish whether
water was safe for adults but not children, the elderly or the sick.
"This work will inform and support efforts to ensure that the poor
have access to safe drinking water," Charles Lyons, a foundation
official, said in a statement.
Waterborne disease causes 1.8 million deaths each year, including
1.5 million children younger than 5 years old, according to the World
Health Organization, which is part of the consortium of agencies and
universities working on the project. More than 1 billion people lack
access to safe water, with most unaware it is unsafe, WHO said.
A simple easy-to-use water test has not been created sooner
because there is no market for it in the developed world, said
Stephen Gundry, the director of the Water and Health Research Center
Gundry said he expects the devices will be in widespread use in 80
percent of developing countries within 10 years. He said he hopes to
begin testing the devices in two target countries -- India and South
Africa -- within two years.
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