Proctor and Gamble, a U.S. company that has a presence in almost every American home, manufactures a diverse set of products ranging from toothpaste and shampoo to disposable wipes and prescription drugs. But since 2004, they have also been sharing clean drinking water with the world. Under the moniker of their PUR brand, a brand that encompasses drinking water filters for sinks, refrigerators and pitchers, P&G has been distributing packets that can purify almost any available water even if that water is contaminated with deadly microorganisms.
Quite simply, one only needs to pour a PUR packet into a container filled with water, stir, filter the resulting water through a cloth strainer (provided in each packet) and wait about 20 minutes. The results are amazing even the most turbid, fouled water becomes clear and free of disease in less than 30 minutes, start to finish. Each packet can purify 10 liters of water and the process removes silt, cysts and pollution; additionally it kills viruses and bacteria that cannot be easily filtered. In the image below, the process of separating the solids from the water can be observed. This image was taken after a packet was added to brown, filthy water. The stirring process begins the reaction and the solids begin to clump together and fall out of the water.
While the obvious beneficiaries of such water-purifying technology are the citizens of the developing world, there are many other needs. Post-disaster recovery efforts like those after a major hurricane or earthquake can greatly benefit from clean water. Bringing in water from distant sources is a time consuming and resource-intensive effort; with adequate on-site water purification, it is possible to divert these resources to other important tasks like transport and care for the injured and cleanup. Beyond the grim vision of a disaster, hikers and backpackers are always eager to have a lightweight, transportable means of water purification.
The benefits of clean water are well established. Reduction of disease, reduction in childhood mortality and increased lifespan are all linked to clean drinking water access. Additionally, the improved quality of life in areas where fouled water has been made clean has often resulted in a more stable lifestyle for the local population. With the basic demand of survival met with the clean water, the residents are often able to focus on improvements to agriculture and the economy.
Dr. Greg Allgood is P&G‘s director of the Children‘s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) program, the company‘s effort aimed at distributing PUR packets to villages and their children worldwide. Together with global partners like CARE, USAID the USCDC and the International Council of Nurses, Dr. Allgood and his team have been able to distribute enough packets to purify over 1 billion liters of water since 2004. While that mark is certainly admirable, the P&G team wants to do more. The current goal for the CSDW program is to deliver over 3.5 billion liters of drinking water by 2012.
To help reach that goal, P&G is using a portion of the proceeds coming from PUR water filters and water purification packets sold in the United States. Every time consumers buy these products, P&G can provide more packets to children and their families in the developing world at no cost. Additionally, P&G and its partners take donations from the public that go directly to providing water purification packets to those who need them. You can help in this important effort by visiting and learning more about how you can share safe drinking water with the world.