The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

26 June 2007

Life straw

Today, more than one billion people of the world’s population are without access to safe water. At any given moment, about half of the world's poor are suffering from waterborne diseases; over 6,000 (mainly children) die each day through consuming unsafe drinking water. And hundreds of millions of women and girls lose their dignity, their energy and their time in bringing this unsafe water into their households.

Safe water solutions, therefore, have a vast potential to transform the lives of millions, and improve the quality of life, facilitate child development and help move towards a greater gender equality.

LifeStraw® was developed as one practical solution to this problem.

Vestergaard Frandsen is also addressing other issues by designing longer-lasting mosquito nets and plastic sheeting for insect control

The FiltaStraw
The Vestergaard Frandsen Group was founded in Denmark in 1957, and is now headquartered in Switzerland with branch offices around the developing world.

One of its products is the FiltaStraw, a portable water filtration and purification device. It measures 250mm long by 29mm in diameter. It weighs just 95 grams and has a rope attachment that allows it to simply hang around your neck.

The FiltaStraw has a 3 stage particle filtration system which will filter down to 15 microns. Its first filter is a pre-filter of PE filter textile with a mesh of 100 microns, followed by a second polyester filter with a mesh opening of just 15 microns. The FiltaStraw is capable of filtering around 700 litres of water which is enough to provide a one year’s water requirement for most people.

Using this method all large particles are filtered out, even clusters of bacteria are removed. The water is then led into a chamber of Iodine impregnated beads where bacteria, viruses and parasites are killed.

The second chamber has a void where the Iodine having been washed off the beads can do its job. The last chamber consists of granulated activated carbon. Its role is to take away the main part of the smell of the Iodine, and to take away the parasites that have not been removed by the pre-filter or killed by the Iodine.

The biggest parasites will be filtered by the pre-filter, the weakest will be killed by the Iodine and the medium range will be killed by the activated carbon.

How to use a FiltaStraw
1. Remove the FiltaStraw from its protective packaging. Remove the lower cap with your finger nail then remove the small cover that covers the mouthpiece.
2. Place the FiltaStraw in the suspect water and suck steadily on the mouthpiece. When the water arrives in your mouth for the first few times you should spit it out as this water will contain some black carbon particulate. It is not dangerous but it is better to spit it out anyway. Continue to suck steadily on the FiltaStraw until you have satisfied your thirst.
3. On completion simply blow back through the FiltaStraw to help cleanse it and remove some of the particulates that may have gathered on the first pre-filter.

The FiltaStraw cost £5 for each straw; but there are considerable savings on bulk orders.


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