Filtration is any of various mechanical, physical or biological operations that separate solids from fluids (liquids or gases) by adding a medium through which only the fluid can pass. The fluid that passes through is called the filtrate. In physical filters oversize solids in the fluid are retained and in biological filters particulates are trapped and ingested and metabolites are retained and removed. However, the separation is not complete; solids will be contaminated with some fluid and filtrate will contain fine particles (depending on the pore size, filter thickness and biological activity). Filtration occurs both in nature and in engineered systems; there are biological, geological, and industrial forms. For example, in animals (including humans), renal filtration removes waste from the blood, and in water treatment and sewage treatment, undesirable constituents are removed by absorption into a biological film grown on or in the filter medium, as in slow sand filtration.
There are many different methods of filtration; all aim to attain the separation of substances. Separation is achieved by some form of interaction between the substance or objects to be removed and the filter. The substance that is to pass through the filter must be a fluid, i.e. a liquid or gas. Methods of filtration vary depending on the location of the targeted material, i.e. whether it is dissolved in the fluid phase or suspended as a solid.
There are several filtration techniques depending on the desired outcome namely, hot, cold and vacuum filtration. Some of the major purposes of getting the desired outcome are, for the removal of impurities from a mixture or, for the isolation of solids from a mixture.
Hot filtration method is mainly used to separate solids from a hot solution. This is done in order to prevent crystal formation in the filter funnel and other apparatuses that comes in contact with the solution. As a result, the apparatus and the solution used are heated in order to prevent the rapid decrease in temperature which in turn, would lead to the crystallization of the solids in the funnel and hinder the filtration process. One of the most important measures to prevent the formation of crystals in the funnel and to undergo effective hot filtration is the use stemless filter funnel. Due to the absence of stem in the filter funnel, there is a decrease in the surface area of contact between the solution and the stem of the filter funnel, hence preventing re-crystallization of solid in the funnel, adversely affecting filtration process.
Cold Filtration method is the use of ice bath in order to rapidly cool down the solution to be crystallized rather than leaving it out to cool it down slowly in the room temperature. This technique results to the formation of very small crystals as opposed to getting large crystals by cooling the solution down at room temperature.
Vacuum Filtration technique is most preferred for small batch of solution in order to quickly dry out small crystals. This method requires a Büchner funnel, filter paper of smaller diameter than the funnel, Büchner flask, and rubber tubing to connect to vacuum source.
Two main types of filter media are employed in laboratories: a surface filter, a solid sieve which traps the solid particles, with or without the aid of filter paper (e.g. Büchner funnel, Belt filter, Rotary vacuum-drum filter, Cross-flow filters, Screen filter); and a depth filter, a bed of granular material which retains the solid particles as it passes (e.g. sand filter). The first type allows the solid particles, i.e. the residue, to be collected intact; the second type does not permit this. However, the second type is less prone to clogging due to the greater surface area where the particles can be trapped. Also, when the solid particles are very fine, it is often cheaper and easier to discard the contaminated granules than to clean the solid sieve.
Filter media can be cleaned by rinsing with solvents or detergents. Alternatively, in engineering applications, such as swimming pool water treatment plants, they may be cleaned by backwashing. Self-cleaning screen filters utilize point-of-suction backwashing to clean the screen without interrupting system flow.
Fluids flow through a filter due to a difference in pressure—fluid flows from the high-pressure side to the low-pressure side of the filter, leaving some material behind. The simplest method to achieve this is by gravity and can be seen in the coffeemaker example. In the laboratory, pressure in the form of compressed air on the feed side (or vacuum on the filtrate side) may be applied to make the filtration process faster, though this may lead to clogging or the passage of fine particles. Alternatively, the liquid may flow through the filter by the force exerted by a pump, a method commonly used in industry when a reduced filtration time is important. In this case, the filter need not be mounted vertically.
Certain filter aids may be used to aid filtration. These are often incompressible diatomaceous earth, or kieselguhr, which is composed primarily of silica. Also used are wood cellulose and other inert porous solids such as the cheaper and safer perlite.
These filter aids can be used in two different ways. They can be used as a precoat before the slurry is filtered. This will prevent gelatinous-type solids from plugging the filter medium and also give a clearer filtrate. They can also be added to the slurry before filtration. This increases the porosity of the cake and reduces resistance of the cake during filtration. In a rotary filter, the filter aid may be applied as a precoat; subsequently, thin slices of this layer are sliced off with the cake.
The use of filter aids is usually limited to cases where the cake is discarded or where the precipitate can be chemically separated from the filter.
Filtration is a more efficient method for the separation of mixtures than decantation, but is much more time consuming. If very small amounts of solution are involved, most of the solution may be soaked up by the filter medium.
An alternative to filtration is centrifugation—instead of filtering the mixture of solid and liquid particles, the mixture is centrifuged to force the (usually) denser solid to the bottom, where it often forms a firm cake. The liquid above can then be decanted. This method is especially useful for separating solids which do not filter well, such as gelatinous or fine particles. These solids can clog or pass through the filter, respectively.
Examples of filtration include
An experiment to prove the existence of microscopic organisms involves the comparison of water passed through unglazed porcelain and unfiltered water. When left in sealed containers the filtered water takes longer to go foul, demonstrating that very small items (such as bacteria) can be removed from fluids by filtration.
A particulate air filter is a device composed of fibrous or porous materials which removes solid particulates such as dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria from the air. Filters containing an adsorbent or catalyst such as charcoal (carbon) may also remove odors and gaseous pollutants such as volatile organic compounds or ozone. Air filters are used in applications where air quality is important, notably in building ventilation systems and in engines.
Some buildings, as well as aircraft and other human-made environments (e.g., satellites and space shuttles) use foam, pleated paper, or spun fiberglass filter elements. Another method, air ionizers, use fibers or elements with a static electric charge, which attract dust particles. The air intakes of internal combustion engines and air compressors tend to use either paper, foam, or cotton filters. Oil bath filters have fallen out of favor. The technology of air intake filters of gas turbines has improved significantly in recent years, due to improvements in the aerodynamics and fluid dynamics of the air-compressor part of the gas turbines.Clarification and stabilization of wine
In winemaking, clarification and stabilization are the processes by which insoluble matter suspended in the wine is removed before bottling. This matter may include dead yeast cells (lees), bacteria, tartrates, proteins, pectins, various tannins and other phenolic compounds, as well as pieces of grape skin, pulp, stems and gums. Clarification and stabilization may involve fining, filtration, centrifugation, flotation, refrigeration, pasteurization, and/or barrel maturation and racking.Diabetic nephropathy
Diabetic nephropathy (DN), also known as diabetic kidney disease, is the chronic loss of kidney function occurring in those with diabetes mellitus. Protein loss in the urine due to damage to the glomeruli may become massive, and cause a low serum albumin with resulting generalized body swelling (edema) and result in the nephrotic syndrome. Likewise, the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) may progressively fall from a normal of over 90 ml/min/1.73m2 to less than 15, at which point the patient is said to have end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). It usually is slowly progressive over years.Pathophysiologic abnormalities in DN begin with long-standing poorly controlled blood glucose levels. This is followed by multiple changes in the filtration units of the kidneys, the nephrons. (There are normally about 750,000–1.5 million nephrons in each adult kidney). Initially, there is constriction of the efferent arterioles and dilation of afferent arterioles, with resulting glomerular capillary hypertension and hyperfiltration; this gradually changes to hypofiltration over time. Concurrently, there are changes within the glomerulus itself: these include a thickening of the basement membrane, a widening of the slit membranes of the podocytes, an increase in the number of mesangial cells, and an increase in mesangial matrix. This matrix invades the glomerular capillaries and produces deposits called Kimmelstiel-Wilson nodules. The mesangial cells and matrix can progressively expand and consume the entire glomerulus, shutting off filtration.The status of DN may be monitored by measuring two values: the amount of protein in the urine - proteinuria; and a blood test called the serum creatinine. The amount of the proteinuria reflects the degree of damage to any still-functioning glomeruli. The value of the serum creatinine can be used to calculate the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which reflects the percentage of glomeruli which are no longer filtering the blood. Treatment with an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACEI) or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), which dilates the arteriole exiting the glomerulus, thus reducing the blood pressure within the glomerular capillaries, which may slow (but not stop) progression of the disease. Three classes of diabetes medications – GLP-1 agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, and SGLT2 inhibitors – are also thought to slow the progression of diabetic nephropathy.Diabetic nephropathy is the most common cause of ESKD and is a serious complication that affects approximately one quarter of adults with diabetes in the United States. Affected individuals with end-stage kidney disease often require hemodialysis and eventually kidney transplantation to replace the failed kidney function. Diabetic nephropathy is associated with an increased risk of death in general, particularly from cardiovascular disease.Filtration (probability theory)
In the theory of stochastic processes, a subdiscipline of probability theory, filtrations are used to model the information that is available at a given point and therefore play an important role in the formalization of random processes.Glomerulus (kidney)
The glomerulus (), plural glomeruli, is a network of capillaries known as a tuft, located at the beginning of a nephron in the kidney. The tuft is structurally supported by intraglomerular mesangial cells. The blood is filtered across the capillary walls of this tuft through the glomerular filtration barrier, which yields its filtrate of water and soluble substances to a cup-like sac known as Bowman's capsule. The filtrate then enters the renal tubule, of the nephron.The glomerulus receives its blood supply from an afferent arteriole of the renal arterial circulation. Unlike most capillary beds, the glomerular capillaries exit into efferent arterioles rather than venules. The resistance of the efferent arterioles causes sufficient hydrostatic pressure within the glomerulus to provide the force for ultrafiltration.
The glomerulus and its surrounding Bowman's capsule constitute a renal corpuscle, the basic filtration unit of the kidney. The rate at which blood is filtered through all of the glomeruli, and thus the measure of the overall renal function, is the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).Hydrophile
A hydrophile is a molecule or other molecular entity that is attracted to water molecules and tends to be dissolved by water. In contrast, hydrophobes are not attracted to water and may seem to be repelled by it.Kidney
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs found in vertebrates. They are located on the left and right in the retroperitoneal space, and in adult humans are about 11 centimetres (4.3 in) in length. They receive blood from the paired renal arteries; blood exits into the paired renal veins. Each kidney is attached to a ureter, a tube that carries excreted urine to the bladder.
The nephron is the structural and functional unit of the kidney. Each human adult kidney contains around 1 million nephrons, while a mouse kidney contains only about 12,500 nephrons. The kidney participates in the control of the volume of various body fluid compartments, fluid osmolality, acid-base balance, various electrolyte concentrations, and removal of toxins. Filtration occurs in the glomerulus: one-fifth of the blood volume that enters the kidneys is filtered. Examples of substances reabsorbed are solute-free water, sodium, bicarbonate, glucose, and amino acids. Examples of substances secreted are hydrogen, ammonium, potassium and uric acid. The kidneys also carry out functions independent of the nephron. For example, they convert a precursor of vitamin D to its active form, calcitriol; and synthesize the hormones erythropoietin and renin.
Renal physiology is the study of kidney function. Nephrology is the medical specialty which addresses diseases of kidney function: these include chronic kidney disease, nephritic and nephrotic syndromes, acute kidney injury, and pyelonephritis. Urology addresses diseases of kidney (and urinary tract) anatomy: these include cancer, renal cysts, kidney stones and ureteral stones, and urinary tract obstruction.Procedures used in the management of kidney disease include chemical and microscopic examination of the urine (urinalysis), measurement of kidney function by calculating the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) using the serum creatinine; and kidney biopsy and CT scan to evaluate for abnormal anatomy. Dialysis and kidney transplantation are used to treat kidney failure; one (or both sequentially) of these are almost always used when renal function drops below 15%. Nephrectomy is frequently used to cure renal cell carcinoma.Membrane
A membrane is a selective barrier; it allows some things to pass through but stops others. Such things may be molecules, ions, or other small particles. Biological membranes include cell membranes (outer coverings of cells or organelles that allow passage of certain constituents); nuclear membranes, which cover a cell nucleus; and tissue membranes, such as mucosae and serosae. Synthetic membranes are made by humans for use in laboratories and industry (such as chemical plants).
This concept of a membrane has been known since the eighteenth century, but was used little outside of the laboratory until the end of World War II. Drinking water supplies in Europe had been compromised by the war and membrane filters were used to test for water safety. However, due to the lack of reliability, slow operation, reduced selectivity and elevated costs, membranes were not widely exploited. The first use of membranes on a large scale was with micro-filtration and ultra-filtration technologies. Since the 1980s, these separation processes, along with electrodialysis, are employed in large plants and, today, a number of experienced companies serve the market.The degree of selectivity of a membrane depends on the membrane pore size. Depending on the pore size, they can be classified as microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF) and reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. Membranes can also be of various thickness, with homogeneous or heterogeneous structure. Membranes can be neutral or charged, and particle transport can be active or passive. The latter can be facilitated by pressure, concentration, chemical or electrical gradients of the membrane process. Membranes can be generally classified into synthetic membranes and biological membranes.Nephron
The nephron (fromGreek νεφρός – nephros, meaning "kidney") is the microscopic structural and functional unit of the kidney. It is composed of a renal corpuscle and a renal tubule. The renal corpuscle consists of a tuft of capillaries called a glomerulus and an encompassing Bowman's capsule. The renal tubule extends from the capsule. The capsule and tubule are connected and are composed of epithelial cells with a lumen. A healthy adult has 0.8 to 1.5 million nephrons in each kidney. Blood is filtered as it passes through three layers: the endothelial cells of the capillary wall, its basement membrane, and between the foot processes of the podocytes of the lining of the capsule. The tubule has adjacent peritubular capillaries that run between the descending and ascending portions of the tubule. As the fluid from the capsule flows down into the tubule, it is processed by the epithelial cells lining the tubule: water is reabsorbed and substances are exchanged (some are added, others are removed); first with the interstitial fluid outside the tubules, and then into the plasma in the adjacent peritubular capillaries through the endothelial cells lining that capillary. This process regulates the volume of body fluid as well as levels of many body substances. At the end of the tubule, the remaining fluid—urine—exits: it is composed of water, metabolic waste, and toxins.
The interior of Bowman's capsule, called Bowman's space, collects the filtrate from the filtering capillaries of the glomerular tuft, which also contains mesangial cells supporting these capillaries. These components function as the filtration unit and make up the renal corpuscle. The filtering structure (glomerular filtration barrier) has three layers composed of endothelial cells, a basement membrane, and podocytes (foot processes). The tubule has five anatomically and functionally different parts: the proximal tubule, which has a convoluted section the proximal convoluted tubule followed by a straight section (proximal straight tubule); the loop of Henle, which has two parts, the descending loop of Henle ("descending loop") and the ascending loop of Henle ("ascending loop"); the distal convoluted tubule ("distal loop"); the connecting tubule, and the collecting ducts. Nephrons have two lengths with different urine concentrating capacities: long juxtamedullary nephrons and short cortical nephrons.
The four mechanisms used to create and process the filtrate (the result of which is to convert blood to urine) are filtration, reabsorption, secretion and excretion. Filtration occurs in the glomerulus and is largely passive: it is dependent on the intracapillary blood pressure. About one-fifth of the plasma is filtered as the blood passes through the glomerular capillaries; four-fifths continues into the peritubular capillaries. Normally the only components of the blood that are not filtered into Bowman's capsule are blood proteins, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Over 150 liters of fluid enter the glomeruli of an adult every day: 99% of the water in that filtrate is reabsorbed. Reabsorption occurs in the renal tubules and is either passive, due to diffusion, or active, due to pumping against a concentration gradient. Secretion also occurs in the tubules and is active. Substances reabsorbed include: water, sodium chloride, glucose, amino acids, lactate, magnesium, calcium phosphate, uric acid, and bicarbonate. Substances secreted include urea, creatinine, potassium, hydrogen, and uric acid. Some of the hormones which signal the tubules to alter the reabsorption or secretion rate, and thereby maintain homeostasis, include (along with the substance affected) antidiuretic hormone (water), aldosterone (sodium, potassium), parathyroid hormone (calcium, phosphate), atrial natriuretic peptide (sodium) and brain natriuretic peptide (sodium). A countercurrent system in the renal medulla provides the mechanism for generating a hypertonic interstitium, which allows the recovery of solute-free water from within the nephron and returning it to the venous vasculature when appropriate.
Some diseases of the nephron predominantly affect either the glomeruli or the tubules. Glomerular diseases include diabetic nephropathy, glomerulonephritis and IgA nephropathy; renal tubular diseases include acute tubular necrosis and polycystic kidney disease.Passive transport
Passive transport is a movement of ions and other atomic or molecular substances across cell membranes without need of energy input. Unlike active transport, it does not require an input of cellular energy because it is instead driven by the tendency of the system to grow in entropy. The rate of passive transport depends on the permeability of the cell membrane, which, in turn, depends on the organization and characteristics of the membrane lipids and proteins. The four main kinds of passive transport are simple diffusion, facilitated diffusion, filtration, and/or osmosis.Podocyte
Podocytes are cells in the Bowman's capsule in the kidneys that wrap around capillaries of the glomerulus. The Bowman's capsule filters the blood, retaining large molecules such as proteins while smaller molecules such as water, salts, and sugars are filtered as the first step in the formation of urine. Although various viscera have epithelial layers, the name visceral epithelial cells usually refers specifically to podocytes, which are specialized epithelial cells that reside in the visceral layer of the capsule.
The podocytes have long processes, called foot processes, foot projections, or pedicels, for which the cells are named (podo- + -cyte). The foot projections wrap around the capillaries and leave slits between them. Blood is filtered through these slits, each known as a filtration slit or slit diaphragm. Several proteins are required for the foot projections to wrap around the capillaries and function. When infants are born with certain defects in these proteins, such as nephrin and CD2AP, their kidneys cannot function. People have variations in these proteins, and some variations may predispose them to kidney failure later in life. Nephrin is a zipper-like protein that forms the slit diaphragm, with spaces between the teeth of the zipper, big enough to allow sugar and water through, but too small to allow proteins through. Nephrin defects are responsible for congenital kidney failure. CD2AP regulates the podocyte cytoskeleton and stabilizes the slit diaphragm.Renal function
Renal function, in nephrology, is an indication of the kidney's condition and its role in renal physiology. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) describes the flow rate of filtered fluid through the kidney. Creatinine clearance rate (CCr or CrCl) is the volume of blood plasma that is cleared of creatinine per unit time and is a useful measure for approximating the GFR. Creatinine clearance exceeds GFR due to creatinine secretion, which can be blocked by cimetidine. In alternative fashion, overestimation by older serum creatinine methods resulted in an underestimation of creatinine clearance, which provided a less biased estimate of GFR. Both GFR and CCr may be accurately calculated by comparative measurements of substances in the blood and urine, or estimated by formulas using just a blood test result (eGFR and eCCr).
The results of these tests are used to assess the excretory function of the kidneys. Staging of chronic kidney disease is based on categories of GFR as well as albuminuria and cause of kidney disease.Dosage of drugs that are excreted primarily via urine may need to be modified based on either GFR or creatinine clearance.Renal physiology
Renal physiology (Latin rēnēs, "kidneys") is the study of the physiology of the kidney. This encompasses all functions of the kidney, including maintenance of acid-base balance; regulation of fluid balance; regulation of sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes; clearance of toxins; absorption of glucose, amino acids, and other small molecules; regulation of blood pressure; production of various hormones, such as erythropoietin; and activation of vitamin D.
Much of renal physiology is studied at the level of the nephron, the smallest functional unit of the kidney. Each nephron begins with a filtration component that filters the blood entering the kidney. This filtrate then flows along the length of the nephron, which is a tubular structure lined by a single layer of specialized cells and surrounded by capillaries. The major functions of these lining cells are the reabsorption of water and small molecules from the filtrate into the blood, and the secretion of wastes from the blood into the urine.
Proper function of the kidney requires that it receives and adequately filters blood. This is performed at the microscopic level by many hundreds of thousands of filtration units called renal corpuscles, each of which is composed of a glomerulus and a Bowman's capsule. A global assessment of renal function is often ascertained by estimating the rate of filtration, called the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).Size-exclusion chromatography
Size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), also known as molecular sieve chromatography, is a chromatographic method in which molecules in solution are separated by their size, and in some cases molecular weight. It is usually applied to large molecules or macromolecular complexes such as proteins and industrial polymers. Typically, when an aqueous solution is used to transport the sample through the column, the technique is known as gel-filtration chromatography, versus the name gel permeation chromatography, which is used when an organic solvent is used as a mobile phase. The chromatography column is packed with fine, porous beads which are composed of dextran polymers (Sephadex), agarose (Sepharose), or polyacrylamide (Sephacryl or BioGel P). The pore sizes of these beads are used to estimate the dimensions of macromolecules. SEC is a widely used polymer characterization method because of its ability to provide good molar mass distribution (Mw) results for polymers.Sterilization (microbiology)
Sterilization refers to any process that eliminates, removes, kills, or deactivates all forms of life and other biological agents (such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, spore forms, prions, unicellular eukaryotic organisms such as Plasmodium, etc.) present in a specified region, such as a surface, a volume of fluid, medication, or in a compound such as biological culture media. Sterilization can be achieved through various means, including: heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration. Sterilization is distinct from disinfection, sanitization, and pasteurization, in that sterilization kills, deactivates, or eliminates all forms of life and other biological agents which are present.Ultrafiltration
Ultrafiltration (UF) is a variety of membrane filtration in which forces like pressure or concentration gradients lead to a separation through a semipermeable membrane. Suspended solids and solutes of high molecular weight are retained in the so-called retentate, while water and low molecular weight solutes pass through the membrane in the permeate (filtrate). This separation process is used in industry and research for purifying and concentrating macromolecular (103 - 106 Da) solutions, especially protein solutions.
Ultrafiltration is not fundamentally different from microfiltration. Both of these separate based on size exclusion or particle capture. It is fundamentally different from membrane gas separation, which separate based on different amounts of absorption and different rates of diffusion. Ultrafiltration membranes are defined by the molecular weight cut-off (MWCO) of the membrane used. Ultrafiltration is applied in cross-flow or dead-end mode.Urinary system
The urinary system, also known as the renal system or urinary tract, consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra. The purpose of the urinary system is to eliminate waste from the body, regulate blood volume and blood pressure, control levels of electrolytes and metabolites, and regulate blood pH. The urinary tract is the body's drainage system for the eventual removal of urine. The kidneys have an extensive blood supply via the renal arteries which leave the kidneys via the renal vein. Each kidney consists of functional units called nephrons. Following filtration of blood and further processing, wastes (in the form of urine) exit the kidney via the ureters, tubes made of smooth muscle fibres that propel urine towards the urinary bladder, where it is stored and subsequently expelled from the body by urination (voiding). The female and male urinary system are very similar, differing only in the length of the urethra.Urine is formed in the kidneys through a filtration of blood. The urine is then passed through the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored. During urination, the urine is passed from the bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body.
800–2,000 milliliters (mL) of urine are normally produced every day in a healthy human. This amount varies according to fluid intake and kidney function.Water filter
A water filter removes impurities by lowering contamination of water using a fine physical barrier, a chemical process, or a biological process. Filters cleanse water to different extents for purposes such as providing agricultural irrigation, accessible drinking water, public and private aquariums, and the safe use of ponds and swimming pools.Water purification
Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids, and gases from water. The goal is to produce water fit for specific purposes. Most water is purified and disinfected for human consumption (drinking water), but water purification may also be carried out for a variety of other purposes, including medical, pharmacological, chemical, and industrial applications. The methods used include physical processes such as filtration, sedimentation, and distillation; biological processes such as slow sand filters or biologically active carbon; chemical processes such as flocculation and chlorination; and the use of electromagnetic radiation such as ultraviolet light.
Water purification may reduce the concentration of particulate matter including suspended particles, parasites, bacteria, algae, viruses, and fungi as well as reduce the concentration of a range of dissolved and particulate matter.
The standards for drinking water quality are typically set by governments or by international standards. These standards usually include minimum and maximum concentrations of contaminants, depending on the intended use of the water.
Visual inspection cannot determine if water is of appropriate quality. Simple procedures such as boiling or the use of a household activated carbon filter are not sufficient for treating all possible contaminants that may be present in water from an unknown source. Even natural spring water – considered safe for all practical purposes in the 19th century – must now be tested before determining what kind of treatment, if any, is needed. Chemical and microbiological analysis, while expensive, are the only way to obtain the information necessary for deciding on the appropriate method of purification.
According to a 2007 World Health Organization (WHO) report, 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved drinking water supply; 88% of the 4 billion annual cases of diarrheal disease are attributed to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene, while 1.8 million people die from diarrheal disease each year. The WHO estimates that 94% of these diarrheal disease cases are preventable through modifications to the environment, including access to safe water. Simple techniques for treating water at home, such as chlorination, filters, and solar disinfection, and for storing it in safe containers could save a huge number of lives each year. Reducing deaths from waterborne diseases is a major public health goal in developing countries.