Red Cross to release clay water filters to combat chronic kidney disease in rural Sri Lanka

Posted on Friday, April 1st, 2016

01/04/2016 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) in collaboration with the Industrial Technological Institute (ITI) and Red Cross Machinery Organization (Redmo) has designed a new water filter that has the ability to filter out harmful chemicals causing chronic kidney disease to hundreds of thousands of people across Sri Lanka.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has become a major health problem in rural Sri Lanka. Previously confined to North Central and Uva provinces, it is now prevalent in the Northwestern, Eastern, Southern and Central provinces, and parts of the Northern provinces. Most of those living in these poverty-stricken districts are paddy and chena cultivators.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 15 percent of the population aged 15–70 years in the North Central and Uva provinces are affected with CKD. Over 22,000 deaths from the disease have been recorded in the Anuradhapura district in the North Central Province since CKD was first identified in 1991.

Over 1,100 CKD patients are hospitalized per month in Sri Lanka and 300 deaths recorded per year. The death rate, however, is actually higher than this because many of the victims die at home and are not reported.

One of the root causes of kidney disease is the lack of safe drinking water. Due to the salinity level in the water in rural areas filtering them out has become a concern for many people living in these conditions.

The new water filter, which was researched for over two years by the ITI, has the capability to remove fluoride, arsenic and cadmium from the water. This is done through an ion exchange mechanism by interacting with the surface of different clay mineral types.

There are some mineral types which show high fluoride adsorption. Clay composed of some special mineral types are selected in this process.  In addition organic materials with appropriate composition are blended with clay to fabricate the clay water filter. After molding into suitable shape the raw filter is dried in air, smoked and fired at suitable temperature. The appropriate temperature selection is crucial to obtain the optimum properties expected from the water filter.

The agreement between the two parties were signed recently.  It was signed between the National Secretary & Chairman of Redmo Mr. Nimal Kumar and the Chairman of ITI Attorney At Law Mr. Niroshana Perera.

As of now the water filters will be sold at a price of 3,500 rupees (23 USD).