In a test conducted by the US National Science Foundation, folded up sari cloth was found to be just as effective as more expensive materials in filtering out cholera from water in Bangladesh.
According to the BBC, the cholera bacteria lives in a symbiotic relationship with plankton. The theory was that by filtering the plankton out of the water, the amount of cholera bacteria would be decreased as well.
This was put to the test in a Bangladesh village where a filter made of simply taking sari cloth and folding it four times was compared with more expensive nylon filters. The result — in villages where training in using the sari cloth was given, incidence of cholera was cut in half. The nylon filters had slightly poorer results.
The main advantage of the sari cloth is that it is cheap and widely available. Dr. Rita Colwell, who headed up the research, told the BBC that, “The method can save thousands of lives during massive [cholera] epidemics, particularly those of children under the age of five.”
Cloth filter could cut cholera deaths. The BBC, January 14, 2003.
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