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Effect of sunlight, transport and storage vessels on drinking water quality in rural Ghana

K Obiri-Danso
E Amevor
LA Andoh
K Jones


The objective was to evaluate the effect of sunlight, transport and storage vessels on drinking water quality in rural Ghana with the aim of reducing the high demand for fuel wood in the household treatment of water. Well water was exposed for 6h to direct natural sunlight in aluminium, iron, and plastic receptacles and bisque-fired earthenware pots (pot and cooler) and then placed indoors at room temperature for 48h. Samples were also stored continuously indoors at room temperature for 20 days. Water samples exposed to sunlight were analyzed for total and faecal coliforms and enterococci at 2h intervals and those stored indoors at room temperature at 48h intervals. Enterococci die-off was 100% after 6h in sunlight and after 192h at room temperature in all types of storage vessels. Total and faecal coliforms die-off ranged between 43-91% after 6h in sunlight and 51-100% after 480h at room temperature. Microbial die-off in sunlight was higher in aluminium, iron and plastic vessels compared to earthenware vessels although the differences were not statistically significant (p<0.05). As there was no enterococcal re-growth when sunlight exposed water samples were transferred to room temperature for 48h, the enterococci were taken to be dead. Irrespective of storage vessels, significant relationships were found between indicator bacterial die-off and time of exposure to sunlight (R2 = 0.8606-0.9969). Exposure to sunlight in Ghana improves the microbial quality of water compared with storage at room temperature indoors. Solar water disinfection, if practiced in rural Ghana, could improve drinking water quality and reduce the need for fuel wood for boiling water.

Journal of Science and Technology Vol.24(2) 2004: 32-44

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eISSN: 0855-0395