The LifeStraw is a personal water filter that allows people in third world countries to drink potentially contaminated water safely. What catches my attention is that it doesn’t use battery power but instead runs on suction provided by one’s mouth. To have clean drinking water, the water must first pass through a series of filters. The first filter is a mesh of 100 micrometer spaces. From there it passes through a second mesh of 15 micrometer spaces. To give you an idea as to size, one micrometer is 1/1,000,000 of a meter, smaller that the width of a human hair. Next the water passes through a chamber with iodine-coated beads and then finally it goes through a chamber with active carbon, which removes the iodide taste, as well as the medium-sized bacteria. The LifeStraw’s filters are so fine that they can remove particles as small as fifteen microns. The LifeStraw can protect against typhoid, cholera (it would be useful in Haiti right now), dysentery, diarrhea, and more.
Although the LifeStraw has been praised by many, Paul Hetheringhton of Water Aid has criticized it for being too expensive for the target market. But why only sell to a market of third world countries? Why not sell to outdoor goods stores for hikers, hunters, and backwoods campers. Also, couldn’t the company sell the LifeStraw for $10 to subsidize the cost of selling it to third world countries?
I think the LifeStraw is a wonderful invention that has, and will, save many lives, and I commend them for that. If you would like to donate to the LifeStraw project, please visit Vestergard-Frandsen.
(Image via Mountain Mail Order)