Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development

The effect of increasing grain size in biosand water filters in combination with ultraviolet disinfection

Timothy E. Frank, Matthew L. Scheie, Victoria Cachro, Andrew S. Muñoz


With sand less than 0.70 mm often difficult to source in the field, it is of interest to study larger grained sand for use in biosand water filters (BSF). This study examined how sand grain size affects biological sand water filtration and how the combination of biological sand filtration and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection affects drinking water quality. Two BSFs were built: a control with maximum grain size, dmax = 0.70 mm and an experimental with grain sizes ranging from 0.70 mm to dmax = 2.0 mm. Untreated water was passed through each BSF daily. Results show Escherichia coli and turbidity removal characteristics of the control and experimental BSFs were not significantly different from one another. Both BSFs produced water that met World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guidelines for turbidity, and although E. coli reduction was over 98% for each BSF, a high initial bacteria concentration resulted in effluent levels above WHO guidelines. Subsequently, effluent from each BSF was placed in clear plastic bottles under UV light, after which water from each BSF met E. coli guidelines. The data yielded promising results for using larger sand in BSFs, but longer duration studies with more data points are needed.

  • biosand water filter
  • developing countries
  • disinfection
  • grain size
  • water quality
  • Received May 25, 2013.
  • Accepted October 10, 2013.