Waterborne diseases are still common in developing countries as drinking water sources are contaminated and feasible means to reliably treat and disinfect these waters are not available. Many of these developing countries are in the tropical regions of the world where sunlight is plentiful. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of combining solar radiation and solar heating to disinfect contaminated water using a modified Family Sol*Saver System (FSP). The non-UV transmittable cover sheet of the former FSP system was replaced with an UV transmittable plastic cover sheet to enable more wavelengths of sunlight to treat the water. Disinfection efficiency of both systems was evaluated based on reduction of the natural populations of faecal coliform, E. coli, enterococci, C. perfringens, total heterotrophic bacteria, hydrogen sulphide producing bacteria and FRNA virus. The results showed that under sunny and partly sunny conditions, water was heated to critical temperature (60°C) in both the FSP systems inactivating more than 3 log (99.9%) of the concentrations of faecal coliform and E. coli to undetectable levels of <1 CFU/100mL within 2-5 h exposure to sunlight. However, under cloudy conditions, the two FSP systems did not reduce the concentrations of faecal indicator bacteria to levels of <1 CFU/100mL. Nonetheless, sufficient evidence was obtained to show that UV radiation of sunlight plus heat worked synergistically to enhance the inactivation of faecal indicator bacteria. The relative log removal of indicator microorganism in the FSP treated water was total heterotrophic bacteria < C. perfringens < F RNA virus < enterococci < E. coli < faecal coliform. In summary, time of exposure to heat and radiation effects of sunlight were important in disinfecting water by solar units. The data indicated that direct radiation of sunlight worked synergistically with solar heating of the water to disinfect the water. Thus, effective disinfection was observed even when the water temperature did not reach 60°C. Finally, the hydrogen sulphide test is a simple and reliable test that householders can use to determine whether their water had been sufficiently disinfected.

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