Point-of-use Unit Based on Gravity Ultrafiltration Removes Waterborne Gastrointestinal Pathogens from Untreated Water Sources in Rural Communities

Cristóbal Chaidez, Juan R. Ibarra-Rodríguez, José Benigno Valdez-Torres, Marcela Soto, Charles P. Gerba, Nohelia Castro-del Campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objective In developing countries, rural communities often face the lack of potable water infrastructure and must rely on untreated sources for drinking, which are often contaminated with waterborne pathogens. The use of home water treatment devices is seen as one means of reducing the risk of exposure to waterborne pathogens. The aim of this study was to evaluate the microbiological and physicochemical performance of a simple in-home point-of-use device based on gravity ultrafiltration through an ultrafilter membrane. Methods Twenty-five randomly selected households from 2 rural communities in Culiacán, Mexico, were enrolled. Water samples were collected before and after treatment and during storage for a period of 8 weeks. Heterotrophic bacteria, total coliforms, fecal coliforms, Escherichia coli, and Giardia spp were quantified, as well as various physicochemical parameters. Results All of the untreated water samples contained high levels of indicator bacteria, but none were detected in the treated water fulfilling the requirements set by the Mexican Norm (NOM-127-SSA1-1994) and the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water. However, indicator bacteria (fecal coliforms and E coli) were detected in every sample from water stored 24 hours after treatment. Conclusion This study demonstrated that point-of-use filters using gravity-fed ultrafilters are a low-cost, effective water treatment technology for water of poor microbial quality. However, further identification of the sources and mechanisms by which water is contaminated when stored after treatment will help with designing and implementing better strategies for keeping water safe for domestic use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Giardia
  • developing countries
  • drinking water
  • fecal bacterial indicators
  • microbial contamination
  • water treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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