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October 26, 2006

Point-of-Use Water Treatment Reduces Diarrhea in Refugee Camps

Point-of-use water treatment and improved water storage reduced the incidence of diarrhea by 90 percent when compared to improved water storage alone in camps for the internally displaced in Liberia, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In camp settings during emergencies, diarrheal diseases have accounted for more than 40 percent of all deaths, and a majority of deaths of small children. The study evaluated the PUR® Purifier of Water and is the first to test its effectiveness under emergency conditions. The study is published in the October 2006 edition of Tropical Medicine and International Health.

PUR Purifier of Water is a flocculant, which can separate particles and organisms from water, and a disinfectant that kills microbes after 30 minutes. The water is then filtered through a cloth to remove the debris. PUR Purifier of Water is manufactured by Procter & Gamble and is sold at-cost to relief agencies worldwide through P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water program.

“Point-of-use water treatment technologies are very important in the emergency context because safe drinking water is often inaccessible. Our study demonstrated that households were able to treat water in a bucket within 30 minutes with PUR to change muddy water into clear safe drinking water,” said Shannon Doocy, PhD, lead author of the study and a researcher with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Refugee and Disaster Response.

Over a 12-week period, researchers monitored 2,215 internally displaced people living in two camps near Monrovia, Liberia, from July to September 2004. A total of 400 households from the two camps were randomly selected to participate. Half of the households received PUR sachets and containers for storing water while the other half received only storage containers. At the beginning of the study, the prevalence of diarrhea within the camps was 20 percent. In addition to a 90 percent drop in the incidence of diarrhea, the PUR group saw an 83 percent reduction in the prevalence in diarrhea compared to the improved storage group.

“Point-of-use water treatment and diarrhea reduction in the emergency context: an effectiveness trial in Liberia” was written by Shannon Doocy and Gilbert Burnham.

The research was funded by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the Procter & Gamble Health Sciences Institute, the Testa Family Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Procter & Gamble manufactures and markets PUR® Purifier of Water, which was used in the research.

Procter & Gamble was not involved in the design and execution of the study or the analysis and write-up of the data.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Lowe at 410-955-6878 or