Finding safe, clean drinking water when travelling can be a tricky task for travellers. While bottled water can be available in local shops, you may find that this is not always the case when you’re visiting more remote areas. Even if you do manage to find bottled water at your destination, carrying bottles of water around all day can become tiresome, especially if you need to take plenty with you on treks and safaris.
The Risks of Drinking Untreated Water: Waterborne Diseases
Waterborne diseases are caused by consuming water that is contaminated with animal faeces, chemicals, micro-organisms and bacteria. If travellers consume contaminated water they can fall victim to waterborne diseases, including Giardiasis and Cryptosporidium and bacterial infections such as Dysentry. These diseases and infections can cause stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea and fever, as well as many other unpleasant symptoms such as weight loss, bloating and fatigue. Eating fruit, vegetables and salads that have been washed with contaminated water can put you as risk, as can brushing your teeth with untreated water.
How to Avoid Illness & Waterborne Disease: Water Purification
Avoiding waterborne disease, digestive and intestinal problems can be achieved by using a good quality water purification product to treat water that is unsafe to drink. Years ago Iodine tablets were deemed one of the best treatments on the market, but due to a change in EC regulations, these are no longer available. However, there are other products that can be used to make water safe to drink.
Chlorine Tablets: Chlorine tablets are popular amongst travellers and are one of the most common types of water purification you will come across. Chlorine is proven to disinfect contaminated water, killing pathogenic organisms that cause illness. Although effective, many people dislike the taste that chlorine based treatments leave behind, but this can be neutralised by using special neutraliser tablets to remove the unpleasant taste.
Chlorine Dioxide Tablets/Drops: A more recent addition to the market, Chlorine Dioxide is one of the most effective ways of disinfecting water, capable of killing Giardia and Cryptosporidium, as well as other viruses that lurk in water! Unlike chlorine tablets, Chlorine Dioxide doesn’t leave an unpleasant taste and is available in tablet and droplet form. Droplets can prove easier to use compared to tablets, as tablets can take a while to dissolve and can sometimes leave a residue behind.
Water Purification Bottles: There are a number of specialist water filter bottles on the market, including the Aquapure and the Water-to-Go Water Bottle. The Water-to-Go bottle features a filter in the lid that kills 99.9% of contaminants in water. This helps to prevent waterborne diseases and illness caused by contaminated water and also eliminates any harmful by-products and debris that can be left behind when using tablets. Another benefit of using a purification bottle, is that you can simply fill it up, instead of waiting for tablets or drops to take effect!
UV Water Purifiers: Another gadget that can be useful to treating water is a UV water purifier. These are compact and lightweight devices that kill bacteria in water using UV light, products such as the SteriPEN help prevent Giardia, Cholera and Cryptosporidium. However, these are much more expensive compared to other types of water purification.