In this study, we report on field testing of ceramic water filters (CWFs) fabricated using a new method of silver application (using silver nitrate as a raw material) compared to conventionally manufactured CWFs (fabricated with silver nanoparticles). Both types of filters were manufactured at the PureMadi ceramic filter production facility in Dertig, South Africa. Thirty households received filters fabricated with silver nitrate (AgNO3
), and ten of those households were given an extra filter fabricated with silver nanoparticles. Filter performance was quantified by measurement of total coliform and Escherichia coli
) removal and silver residual concentration in the effluent. Silver-nitrate CWFs had removal efficiencies for total coliforms and E. coli
of 95% and 99%, respectively. A comparison of the performance of silver-nitrate and silver-nanoparticle filters showed that the different filters had similar levels of total coliform and E. coli
removal, although the silver nitrate filters produced the highest average removal of 97% while silver nanoparticles filters recorded an average removal of 85%. Average effluent silver levels were below 10 ppb for the silver-nitrate and silver-nanoparticle filters, which was significantly below the Environmental Protection Agencies of the United States (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) secondary guidelines of 100 ppb. Silver-nitrate filters resulted in the lowest effluent silver concentrations, which could potentially increase the effective life span of the filter. A cost analysis shows that it is more economical to produce CWFs using silver nitrate due to a reduction in raw-material costs and reduced labor costs for production. Furthermore, the production of silver-nitrate filters reduces inhalation exposure of silver by workers. The results obtained from this study will be applied to improve the ceramic filtration technology as a point-of-use (POU) water treatment device and hence reduce health problems associated with microbial contamination of water stored at the household level.
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