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How LifeStraw Works

LifeStraw in Action

Both the family and personal models of LifeStraw eliminate sediment, bacteria and parasites from drinking water. The personal filter can stop particles measuring 0.2 microns -- small enough to filter tiny bacteria and parasites. Both models have filters that eliminate 99.9999 percent of the bacteria and 99.9 percent of the parasites present in the water. (As we said, only the family version can filter out viruses.) It's important to note that both versions don't remove heavy chemicals or salt, so don't go sticking your LifeStraw in arsenic-laced water and expect refreshment.

While some people hail LifeStraw and other personal water filters as the answer to the developing world's water woes, others say they're only a temporary fix. Paul Hetherington, spokesperson for the British charity WaterAid, feels the real problem is the distance that some people in remote areas have to travel to a water source, which can be as far as 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) round-trip. He also says LifeStraw is too expensive for the average person in these countries, should they have to procure the units themselves. (They don't currently.) He believes that education on good hygiene and the establishment of a reliable source of clean water in the village is a more viable solution [source: BBC News].

Let's read on to look into some ways LifeStraw is reaching a wide population, as well as its unique -- and occasionally controversial -- distribution method.