LifeStraw filters (LifeStraw, LifeStraw Go and LifeStraw Steel) remove 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa. LifeStraw purifiers (LifeStraw Family and LifeStraw Mission) remove 99.999% of viruses in addition to removing 99.9999% of bacteria, and 99.99% of protozoa. LifeStraw Steel is a two-stage filter that includes an activated carbon filter with the same hollow fibre membrane as the original LifeStraw. In addition to bacteria and protozoa, it also reduces chlorine and some organic chemical matter, and removes odour and bad taste. This replaceable carbon capsule needs to be changed every 3 months with regular use.
LifeStraw is designed for backcountry water and microbiological contaminants. LifeStraw products do not remove contaminants that are dissolved in water including chemicals (like arsenic) or salt from salt water. They should not be used in areas where there is known chemical contamination and should not be used in ocean water.
LifeStraw filters (LifeStraw, LifeStraw Go and LifeStraw Steel) use hollow fibre filtration with a 0.2 micron pore size. LifeStraw purifiers (LifeStraw Family and LifeStraw Mission) use hollow fibre membrane ultra-filtration with a 0.02 micron pore size. This means that dirty water goes into the LifeStraw, microorganisms are physically removed and safe drinking water comes out. Imagine really small tubes with even smaller pores that trap contaminants but allow water to flow through. LifeStraw products do not use chemicals, do not require pumping and do not require any energy input (like batteries).
The flow rate of your LifeStraw will decrease, and then stop pulling water through once it reaches the end of its life. LifeStraw filters including the personal LifeStraw, LifeStraw Mission and LifeStraw Go, filter 264 gallons (1,000 litres), while LifeStraw purifiers including LifeStraw Family 1.0 and LifeStraw Mission, purify 4,755 gallons (18,000 litres) of water. You can maximize lifespan further by cleaning the LifeStraw after each use. For LifeStraw Steel, it is important to change the carbon capsule every 3 months to ensure that the second stage of filtration is working well.
LifeStraw products use hollow-fibre membrane filters to remove contaminants from the water source. No chemicals or moving parts are involved within the filtering process, meaning nothing will expire. If stored in a cool dark place and allowed to dry out between uses, the LifeStraw will last until it reaches capacity.
Schools are selected in close collaboration with local health and education stakeholders. We prioritize schools with the dirtiest water sources and greatest lack of treatment options. We also look for smaller schools that were likely to receive less public resources.
Most schools use community water sources such as springs, rivers, or boreholes for their water. The majority of these sources are untreated. Often the sources are dirtier at certain parts of the year, such as the rainy season where flooding can cause run off from latrines or animal waste to enter the drinking water supply. A minority of the schools are boiling their water or using chlorine treatment, but these practices tend to be inconsistent and, in the case of boiling, release carbon emissions and ash inside of the classrooms.
Vestergaard’s local staff of 46 hygiene and health workers in Western Province provides ongoing safe water education and training to the schools selected to receive LifeStraw Community purifiers to ensure optimal health benefits are realised. We also use mobile phone technology to conduct quarterly surveys of all schools in the program to ensure that their filters are working properly, that schools continue to practice complementary health and hygiene behaviours, and to assess the benefits of the program. Vestergaard has been actively investing in the community health of Western Province, Kenya for over six years beginning with the construction and operation of the Emusanda Health Clinic in 2008 and the provision of LifeStraw Family water purifiers to 877,505 households in 2011. Providing LifeStraw to purify water in the household has been shown to reduce diarrhoeal disease by up to 53% through independent randomised control trials, and now the provision of purified water in schools will ensure that school-aged children can safely hydrate while in the classroom.
Funds from sales of LifeStraw products to consumers are used to provide LifeStraw Community water purifiers to schools in rural Kenya and to create a sustainable program infrastructure to support the maintenance of the water purifiers, training and health education over the 4 year lifespan of the purifier. So, each product purchased is supporting one year’s worth of technology and infrastructure and support costs for a school child, but that school child does not stop receiving safe water after the one year is up. The child will receive access to safe water for 4 years.
- 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water that is faecally contaminated.
- Diarrhoea kills more children under 5 than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.
- 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related illness.
- Diarrhoea remains in the second leading cause of death among children under five globally.
- In Kenya:
- 38% of the population does not have access to an improved water source.
- Only 37% of Kenyan schools have access to safe, clean water within 200 meters of the schools grounds.