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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2012 Sep;87(3):394-8. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0715. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Boiling as household water treatment in Cambodia: a longitudinal study of boiling practice and microbiological effectiveness.

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Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London, UK.


This paper focuses on the consistency of use and microbiological effectiveness of boiling as it is practiced in one study site in peri-urban Cambodia. We followed 60 randomly selected households in Kandal Province over 6 months to collect longitudinal data on water boiling practices and effectiveness in reducing Escherichia coli in household drinking water. Despite > 90% of households reporting that they used boiling as a means of drinking water treatment, an average of only 31% of households had boiled water on hand at follow-up visits, suggesting that actual use may be lower than self-reported use. We collected 369 matched untreated and boiled water samples. Mean reduction of E. coli was 98.5%; 162 samples (44%) of boiled samples were free of E. coli (< 1 colony-forming unit [cfu]/100 mL), and 270 samples (73%) had < 10 cfu/100 mL. Storing boiled water in a covered container was associated with safer product water than storage in an uncovered container.

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