The recent earthquake in Haiti has focused worldwide attention on the need for improved water purification materials and systems. Numerous individuals, religious charities, non-governmental organizations, and private companies have sent water purifications systems to Haiti in recent months in order to stem the spread of waterborne diseases. This recent tragedy has placed a spotlight on the ongoing problem of inadequate access to safe water in developing countries. The United Nations estimates that 1.1 billion people, or eighteen per cent of the world population, cannot obtain safe water at this time1. In developing countries, waterborne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, enteric fever, and hepatitis A are quite common2. Endemic diarrheal diseases place individuals, particularly children, at risk of arrested growth, malnutrition, and neurological conditions. The World Health Organization states that 1.6 million individuals, mostly young children, die from diarrheal diseases each year1.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(10)70108-5