Diarrhea from contaminated drinking water is second only to pneumonia as a cause of childhood deaths worldwide. More than 2,000 children die every day as a result of diarrheal illnesses. The Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) program, a humanitarian effort led by Procter & Gamble, has distributed water-purification packets, which transform cloudy, brown water into crystal-clear, drinkable water that meets all the requirements for drinking water.
The chemistry is impressive, yet the application is impressively simple. It involves pouring the contents of one packet, which weighs less than an ounce, into a bucket of 10 quarts of water and stirring. Dirt, parasites and other material drop to the bottom, and disease-causing microbes die. The water-purification packets produced their 6 billionth quart of potable water earlier this year.