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Faculty members guide Peruvians to safe waters

March 14, 2011

Writer: Writer: Brady Davies

Two Brigham Young University-Idaho health science instructors plan to distribute more than 300 water pasteurization indicators (WAPI) to residents of Cusco, Peru, later this month. They will also teach Peruvian public health leaders how to make the indicators themselves.

 

"WAPIs are really cheap devices that determine if water is safe," said Larry Shaw, one of the instructors. "In many parts of the world, there is a lot of dirty water, and people drink it and get sick."

 

The indicators decrease the danger of drinking water, but they also provide economic advantages. A common practice throughout the world for pasteurizing water is to boil it. Women in some countries travel several miles a day, collecting firewood to boil water, and 212 degrees Fahrenheit requires a lot more fuel than necessary. However, the WAPI's most important ingredient - Myverol 18-06 wax - has a melting point of 160 degrees, the temperature needed for pasteurization.

 

This project not only helps Peruvians; it benefits students as well. In fact, health science instructor Tyler Watson's international health class and the Student Sociological Society built the majority of the water pasteurization indicators. "We are always seeking opportunities for students to participate in international health activities," said Watson, who organized the project. "This is one that has come our way, and we hope it will become a long-term project for students and faculty."

 

In addition to distributing WAPIs, the instructors will speak at the Current Topics in Emergency Care Conference and perform other humanitarian aid from March 19-27. The conference is being hosted by Reach Out and Learn, Inc., a nonprofit organization located in Bountiful, Utah.