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Evaluating household water treatment options: Health-based targets and microbiological performance specifications

Authors: Prof. Mark Sobsey (WaterSHED) and Dr. Joe Brown (WaterSHED)


This document sets forth global criteria to evaluate whether a household water treatment (HWT) option reduces waterborne pathogens sufficiently to protect health. Through use of a risk-based framework and by emphasizing the philosophy of incremental improvement, it is intended to provide implementers and policy-makers with an evidence-based and pragmatic approach to select options suited to local conditions. The document provides a range of technical recommendations, including:

  • A step-by-step overview of how to evaluate HWT microbiological performance
  • Elaboration of health-based water quality targets ranging from interim to highly protective, including establishment of default targets for use in data-scarce settings
  • Description of technology-specific laboratory testing protocols and guiding principles
  • Considerations relating to developing national technology evaluation programs.

This document is especially intended for resource-scarce settings where water quality laboratories may have limited capacity and incremental improvements of HWT performance could have a substantial, positive impact on public health.