A Pilot Study of Solar Water Disinfection in the Wilderness Setting
Wilderness Environ Med
Objective.-Solar disinfection of water has been shown to be an effective treatment method in the developing world, but not specifically in a wilderness or survival setting. The current study sought to evaluate the technique using materials typically available in a wilderness or backcountry environment. Methods.-Untreated surface water from a stream in rural Costa Rica was disinfected using the solar disinfection (SODIS) method, using both standard containers as well as containers and materials more readily available to a wilderness traveler. Results.-Posttreatment samples using polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, as well as Nalgene and Platypus water containers, showed similarly decreased levels of Escherichia coli and total coliforms. Conclusions.-The SODIS technique may be applicable in the wilderness setting using tools commonly available in the backcountry. In this limited trial, specific types of containers common in wilderness settings demonstrated similar performance to the standard containers. With further study, solar disinfection in appropriate conditions may be included as a viable treatment option for wilderness water disinfection.