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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2008 Sep;79(3):407-13.

Microbiological effectiveness and cost of disinfecting water by boiling in semi-urban India.

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Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.


Despite shortcomings, boiling is the most common means of treating water at home and the benchmark against which emerging point-of-use water treatment approaches are measured. In a 5-month study, we assessed the microbiological effectiveness and cost of the practice among 218 self-reported boilers relying on unprotected water supplies. Boiling was associated with a 99% reduction in geometric mean fecal coliforms (FCs; P < 0.001). Despite high levels of fecal contamination in source water, 59.6% of stored drinking water samples from self-reported boilers met the World Health Organization standard for safe drinking water (0 FC/100 mL), and 5.7% were between 1 and 10 FC/100 mL. Nevertheless, 40.4% of stored drinking water samples were positive for FCs, with 25.1% exceeding 100 FC/100 mL. The estimated monthly fuel cost for boiling was INR 43.8 (US$0.88) for households using liquid petroleum gas and INR 34.7 (US$0.69) for households using wood.

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