A couple of months go I was contacted by a representative of SteriPEN, the manufacturers of a hand-held ultraviolet (UV) light water purifier, asking if I would be interested in testing their SteriPEN Freedom device. I almost never accept products for review, but due to the amount of time I spend in developing countries where the drinking water supply is unsafe, I had been seriously considering purchasing a portable water purifier even before they got in touch with me, so I happily agreed to try it out.
When the package arrived I read the instructions, charged it up, and tucked the small device in a side pocket of my backpack. I had intended to try it out the moment I arrived in Pokhara, Nepal, but a month after arriving, it still sat unused in my pack. I thought about it every day that I refilled my plastic one-liter bottle from the five-gallon reusable drinking water jugs provided by my guest house, but I continued to procrastinate. I reasoned that since I wasn’t adding to an already severe plastic waster problem in Nepal, there was no real need to test the city water.
In truth, I was afraid. The idea of drinking a glass of water from the tap in a third-world country, even after it had been treated with an UV light that is proved to destroy 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (giardia and cryptosporidium), made me more than a little uncomfortable. Continue reading