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Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Jun 15;42(12):4255-60.

Microbiological effectiveness and cost of boiling to disinfect drinking water in rural Vietnam.

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London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel St., London, WCIE 7H, U.K.


Despite certain shortcomings, boiling is still the most common means of treating water in the home and the benchmark against which alternative household-based disinfection and filtration methods must be measured. We assessed the microbiological effectiveness and cost of boiling among a vulnerable population relying on unimproved water sources and commonly practicing boiling as a means of disinfecting water. In a 12 week study among 50 households from a rural community in Vietnam, boiling was associated with a 97% reduction in geometric mean thermotolerant coliforms (TTCs) (p < 0.001). Despite high levels of faecal contamination in source water, 37% of stored water samples from self-reported boilers met the WHO standard for safe drinking water (0 TTC/100 mL), and 38.3% fell within the low risk category (1--10 TTC/100 mL). Nevertheless, 60.5% of stored drinking water samples were positive for TTC, with 22.2% falling into the medium risk category (11--100 TTC/100 mL). The estimated cost of wood used to boil water was US$ 0.272 per month for wood collectors and US$ 1.68 per month for wood purchasers, representing approximately 0.48% to 1.04%, respectively, of the average monthly income of participating households.

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