How to prevent water poisoning
A water purifying machine at the centre of a new study says it can be installed in any home, but only if it’s safe to do so.
The machines have already been tested on more than a million homes and will be installed by the end of the year.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest the machines could help save millions of lives in the UK.
The machine is called a “methotrexate-free” water purification system and was created by British-based manufacturer Siva.
It is not designed to be an alternative to conventional water filters, and it is not intended to replace drinking water, but is intended to purify it to prevent further illness.
In this case, Siva says it is able to detect and treat waterborne pathogens and bacteria.
The system has been used in homes for a number of years, but the latest research suggests it could be more effective if installed at a higher altitude.
“It’s a little bit like going up to the summit of Everest,” said Prof Chris Ruddy, an epidemiologist at the University of Exeter.
“You can get a much higher altitude, so it would be really difficult to see the symptoms.”
It is possible the machines can be fitted with an internal filter to filter the water coming into the home, or the machines themselves can be sprayed with disinfectant.
“We don’t know if the disinfectant will do much good, but we think it’s worth trying,” Prof Ruddy said.
“You would get more treatment if you sprayed the disinfectants around it, but it’s hard to see how it’s a great solution.”
There is no immediate evidence that the machines would be able to prevent illness from people breathing in the polluted water.
However, they could be particularly useful in rural areas where people are often unaware of the water supply, and in areas where a water filter might be more useful than a water purging system.
The Siva machines have been installed at the British Association of Water Purifiers in Bournemouth, Surrey.
They will be up and running by the start of the next academic year.
They are expected to be installed around a quarter of the UK, where many people rely on a water system that filters water.
The BBC’s science and health correspondent Dr Nicky Campbell said: “The results are very encouraging and this is something that could really help reduce illness and deaths from waterborne diseases in the short-term.”
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Read more about water, environment and climate:This story has been updated to correct the date of the study.