Field Tests Pausing for More Lab Tests

It wasn’t what we wanted to hear. On February 19th we received a report from the independent Oregon lab on their fourth round of water box testing. This report showed worse performance than in the previous round of testing, and, like the previous rounds, was internally inconsistent. The good news is that we now think we have figured out why the lab testing hasn’t gotten smoothly, and it’s not a problem with the water box itself, but rather a problem with our spec for how the samples should be prepared and handled. There is more detailed information about the fourth round of testing in my March blog on the website.

The bottom line is that we’ve gotten some expert help, and we expect to send a new set of samples off to a different lab later this month. Meanwhile, our colleagues in Uganda have let us know that they are having to turn to other work, and may not be instantly available when we ask them to resume the process of placing water boxes in test households. Nonetheless, we are persevering, and we’ll restart the work in Uganda as soon as is practical.

As I said in the blog post last month, our objective is to confirm, before we distribute the water boxes to households, that they perform up to the requirements of a World Health Organization 2-star rating. The microbiological challenge tests by an independent lab are one part of our 3-part program to confirm the effectiveness of UV water treatment using the water box. We’ve had more success with the other 2 parts, which are model calculations and the field testing for coliform bacteria that our EMI colleagues in Uganda have already done in their own facility.

We are relieved that we may have located the problem, looking forward to working with a lab that can do the tests we need, and optimistic that the next round of tests will give consistent and encouraging results. We hope to update the blog with those results soon.