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HEALTH

WATER YOU CAN DRINK

A small packet that purifies |10 litres is now being made available in flooded areas for free



W ith bottled drinking water still difficult to buy and tap water in many parts of the country including Bangkok still at risk of contamination as a result of the floods, a new water-purification substance called PUR is being made available from today to help ensure that everyone has safe and clean water to drink.

It's easy to use too: All you have to do is mix the little packet of PUR into a container of water and follow a few simple procedures and in just 30 minutes, you have 10 litres of safe drinking water.

Invented by Procter & Gamble in collaboration with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, PUR packets were created to make water purification simpler, more affordable and convenient, especially in developing countries where access to clean water is difficult.

But while the product is available in Thailand, it's not for sale. It's being donated by P&G through the Friends in Need (of "PA") Volunteers Foundation of the Thai Red Cross Society and has already been given to people in disaster areas, stretching from those affected by the September mudslide in Uttaradit to those hit by flooding in Ang Thong, Ayutthaya and Nakhon Sawan.

So far more than 500,000 of the ketchup-sized packets have been distributed.

From today, the foundation is making it easier for folks to get hold of PUR packets by placing the product in 7-Eleven branches in flooded areas, as well as at Tops markets, The Mall and Tesco Lotus.

To prepare 10 litres, simply pour the whole packet into the water - this can be canal or floodwater - and stir for five minutes. Leave it to settle for another five minutes then use a clean cloth to filter the sediment. Leave it for another 20 minutes to enable the chlorine to effectively kill the germs. If the water is still yellow after 10 minutes, leave it a little longer.

Dr Greg Allgood, director of Children's Safe Drinking Water at US-based P&G, says that the chemical ingredients are as same as those used in the water-treatment plants. He explains that chlorine and ferric sulfate make the particles come together before killing pathogenic microorganisms and colloids, making previously contaminated water clean.

"The difference between PUR and standard water filters is that many water filters do not remove very small things and germs like viruses, bacteria or parasites but PUR does. It's effective in killing more than 99.99999 per cent of intestinal bacteria," says Allgood.

Since 2004, PUR has been widely used to help people all over the globe but only arrived in Thailand this year after the country faced its first water shortage.

Foundation president Dr Pichit Suvanprakorn says PUR's outstanding property is that a single packet can produce enough drinking water for one person for an entire week, thus reducing the burden delivering large quantities of bulky bottled water and dealing with the ensuing waste.

The problem, he adds, lies in convincing Thais that the treated water is drinkable.

"We've been sending teams to the flooded areas and demonstrating the process. We tell people that if they don't have any white cloth to use as a strainer, any clean cloth can be used to filter the water. Some people were enthusiastic and asked for more packets but a lot didn't," he says.

He adds that PUR helps to ease the burden of rescue process. "Packing and giving food and a pack of bottled water makes it more difficult to work in flooded areas. If people trust and use PUR, it will help all of us to work and live during these difficult times," he says.

Kannika Jarusuraisin, corporate relations director of P&G Thailand says that they will donate 2.5 million PUR packets through the foundation for distribution in areas affected by the disaster followed by a further 1.1 million packets next year.

Containing 4 grams, PUR costs less than Bt2 per each packet. The factory is located in Pakistan and P&G is opening a new factory in Singapore in the near future. Over the past seven years, P&G has worked with foundations and disaster relief organisations around the world including UNICEF, to distribute PUR to people in disaster areas and in places which regularly suffer from contaminated water, like the Philippines, Bangladesh and Burma.

In some areas in Africa, where water resources are known to be unsafe, PUR is available in local co-operatives for people and tourists to buy.

This year, PUR will have been used to make one billion litres of drinking water. P&G is aiming to scale up production to achieve two billion litres a year to meet the objectives of the "Save One Life Every Hour" campaign.



DRINK UP

From today, flood victims can obtain free sachets of PUR water purification packets (while supplies lasts) at:

  • 7-Eleven stores in Don Muang, Bang Khen, Sai Mai, Chatuchak, Minburi, Nong Chok and Lat Krabang districts
  • The Mall Tha Phra, Ngam Wong Wan, Bang Kapi and Chaeng Wattana
  • Tops in Bangkok and nearby provinces.
  • Tesco Lotus in Bangkok and nearby provinces.


ON THE WEB

Find out more at www.CSDW.com.


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