Cluster randomized controlled trial of the plastic BioSand water filter in Cambodia

About half of the rural population of Cambodia lacks access to improved water; an even higher percentage lacks access to latrines. More than 35,000 concrete BioSand Water filters (BSF) have been installed in the country. However, the concrete BSF takes time to produce and weighs hundreds of pounds. A plastic BSF has been developed but may not perform to the same benchmarks established by its predecessor. To evaluate plastic BSF performance and health impact, we performed a cluster randomized controlled trial in 13 communities including 189 households and 1147 participants in the Angk Snoul district of Kandal Province from May to December 2008. The results suggest that villages with plastic BSFs had significantly lower concentrations of E. coli in drinking water and lower diarrheal disease (incidence rate ratio 0.41, 95% confidence interval: 0.24-0.69) compared to control villages. As one of the first studies on the plastic BSF in Cambodia, these are important findings, especially in a setting where the concrete BSF has seen high rates of continued use years after installation. The study suggests the plastic BSF may play an important role in scaling up the distribution/implementation of the BSF, potentially improving water quality and health in the region.

Cluster randomized controlled trial of the plastic BioSand water filter in Cambodia. C. Stauber, E. Printy, F. McCarty, K. Liang, M. Sobsey. 2012. Environmental Science and Technology 46:2, pp: 722-728. doi.org/10.1021/es203114q