Identification of Montmorillonite (smectite)

Clay Minerals (1971) 9, I.
Institute of Geological Sciences, 64-78 Gray’s Itvt Road, London WCI
(Read at the Spring 1970 meeting of the Clay Minerals Group
and the Basic Science Section of the British Ceramic Society, at
CambrMge; Receh’,ed 27 June 1970).

Breaking Down Barriers – Access to Safe Water

Breaking Down Barriers - Providing Access to Safe WaterSubmitted by Heather Black on Wed, 09/12/2012 – 09:43
Local Potters Breaking Down Barriers – Providing Access to Safe Water

North Okanagan residents can turn on the tap and access potable water, or buy affordably priced bottled water from a number of local companies; Potters without Borders (PWB) addresses the needs of those who don’t have either option by breaking down barriers and providing people with access to safe drinking water.

The organization builds water filter factories in emerging countries to help do just that.

“Most people in North America take clean drinking water for granted,” organizer Reg Kienast said. “In Africa and some other developing countries, over five million people—mostly children under six years—die from water related diseases every year.”

PWB filters, made from clay, colloidal silver and porous materials like sawdust, rice husks or coffee husks, remove harmful bacteria like E. coli, cholera, giardia and cryptosporidium. As many nations without access to clean drinking water can’t afford to start their own filtering factories, PWB raises funds and sends experts over to set it up, train staff and then turn it over to them in order to make those communities self-sufficient.

The organization consists of two technicians, Burt Cohen and Kai Morrill, with the rest of the members in charge of fundraising. Their latest event to raise the much needed funds is a Picnic Potluck and Silent Auction Party at O’Keefe Ranch Sunday, Sept. 16 from 12-3 p.m., or until the music stops. The afternoon will include demonstrations, videos, a silent auction of art and other creative items and, of course, music. Everyone is welcome to attend with a picnic lunch, chair or blanket to sit on and a willingness to learn more about PWB.

From Okanagan Advertiser:

Breaking Down Barriers – How Can You Help?

Follow this link to make a charitable donation – Breaking Down Barriers – Access to Safe Water. Not ready to give? Drop your email address in the box below to join the conversation.

Colloidal Silver

Silver has been used as a medicine and preservative by many cultures throughout history. The
Greeks used silver vessels for water and other liquids to keep them fresh. Silver was used by the
Romans to preserve water in storage jars. During war campaigns Alexander the Great boiled and
stored water in silver or bronze urns to reduce waterborne disease.
Silver was used as a medicine in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Silver, along with other metals
was discovered to possess microbicidal properties but silver alone showed both strong
microbicidal properties and low or no toxicity to humans. The colloidal state proved to be the
most effective form because it lacked the caustic properties of salts (such as silver nitrate) and
demonstrated a high level of activity with very low concentrations (oligodynamic). In 1881 silver
nitrate was first used for the prevention of gonorrhea. In 1884, the German obstetrician F. Crede
administered 1% silver nitrate to the eyes of newborn infants, virtually eliminating the incidence
of disease-caused blindness in newborns. When antibiotics came into widespread use in the
1930s, the use of colloidal silver was dropped.
Today, colloidal silver is used in hospital and clinical settings as an antimicrobial agent for cuts
and burns, in some hospital water systems, and in dental amalgams. It continues to be used in
prevention of infection in the eyes of newborns. In Mexico, colloidal silver manufactured under
the trade name Microdyn, is sold through supermarkets and pharmacies for use in restaurants,
hotels, and homes to disinfect water for drinking or washing of food. Colloidal silver is also used
in water systems of boats and airplanes. In the last decade, daily consumption of water
containing small quantities of colloidal silver has become a popular alternative health treatment to
prevent and cure diseases. U.S. regulatory agencies say that these claims of businesses that make
colloidal silver, or sell home colloidal silver-making devices are undocumented and illegal.
What is colloidal silver
The colloidal silver used in the ceramic water filter is a stable solution of macromolecules
(submicroscopic) of positively charged silver suspended in distilled water and proteins. The size
of a particle of colloidal silver is .005 to .015 or smaller than a virus.
The colloidal silver used in making filters is a high concentration so protein binders are used to
keep the silver from separating from the water. Protein binders for colloidal silver include such
things as xanthium gum, which is used in baking and many food products.
Pure silver (Ag) in its elemental form is positively charged. Colloidal silver is Ag is made
through electrical activation (electrolysis) using a silver rod or wire and an electrical source to
create microscopic positively charged particles (cations) in the water. In water the Ag combines
with oxygen to form AgO. Since “likes” repel, the particles try to maintain the same distance
from each other, resulting in a homogenous dispersed solution.
Inactivation of Bacteria by Colloidal Silver
Bacteria are single-celled living organisms. They need nutrients and other things to survive and
reproduce. It is through chemical reactions called metabolism that nutrients and oxygen (in the
case of aerobic bacteria) are changed into energy for life processes. Enzymes produced by an
organism regulate the rate of metabolism. For example the enzymes in lactobacillus (the friendly
bacteria used to make cheese from milk) determine the rate at which the bacteria turns milk into
cheese. Enzymes are the biological directors. They keep things in control and balance.
One way of disinfection by colloidal silver is that the silver reacts to inactivate the sulfahydryl or
thiol network of enzymes in bacteria. E.coli is inactivated by a very small quantity of silver.
Another mechanism is that colloidal silver attaches itself to the cellular membranes of bacteria
causing the cells to increase in size and cytoplasmic content. The cell membrane and outer cell
layers develop abnormalities and result in the death of the cell.
Safety of Colloidal Silver in the Body
Silver is considered a non-toxic material. The World
Health Organization (WHO) list ten grams per life-time
as the amount that can be taken “without risk to health.”
Silver nitrate is the most toxic form of silver. The
colloidal form of silver which is used by Microdyn is
even less harmful. The only negative health effect of
silver is Argyria, a rare condition in which the skin
and/or hair becomes blue-gray. This condition is
associated with long-term treatment with silver salt
solutions. Aside from discoloration, this condition does not cause any danger.
The WHO states that “the liver plays a decisive role in silver excretion, most of which is absorbed
and excreted with the bile in the feces…In humans, under normal conditions of daily silver
exposure, retention rates (of silver) between 0 and 10% have been observed.” The guideline used
for water is 100ug/L in finished filtered water. Silver samples from filters collected in rural
Nicaragua and analyzed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Toxicon laboratory
did not even approach this limit. Only two of twenty-four samples had a level that could be
detected. Based on all U.S. regulations, the colloidal silver impregnated water filter is a legal
product to distribute and use in the U.S. (Alethia Investigation)
Effects of Chlorine on Colloidal Silver
A chlorine atom (Cl) has an incomplete outer electron shell. Simply speaking chlorine is always
a hungry thief atom and whenever it can it will take an electron from something else. When
chlorine is in water, it takes an extra electron from whatever
it can and becomes a negatively charged chloride Cl-. The
“ide” means there is one extra electron. Positively charged
molecules are attracted to negatively charged molecules. So
colloidal silver Ag+ and Cl- are attracted to each other and
combine to form an AgCl molecule in the water.
Silver combined with oxygen from water (AgO), is more
effective than AgCl for inactivating bacteria. AgCl is less
soluble in water than AgO, so less of it will be present in the
“water” (inactivating bacteria) in the filter, and will remain
stuck to the clay. Small amounts of AgO are lost from the
filter over time but we do not know how much. Testing has
shown the effective life expectancy of the filter to be at least
forty months.

Download (PDF, 23KB)

Improved but not necessarily safe: Water access and the Millennium Development Goals

By Robert Bain*, Jim Wright**, Hong Yang**, Steve Pedley^, Stephen Gundry*, and Jamie Bartram^^

*Water and Health Research Centre, University of Bristol, United Kingdom (UK); **University of Southampton, UK; ^University of Surrey, UK; ^^The Water Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States

“This work shows that interpretation of the MDG indicator as a surrogate for safe water can lead to substantial overestimates of the population using safe drinking-water and, consequently, also overestimates the progress made towards the 2015 MDG target. There are important policy implications – whilst progress has been made, adjusting for water quality shows that much of the world’s population still lacks access to safe water.”




Download (PDF, 740KB)


Latest Video

“One billion people living in the world today without access to clean water” is a staggering figure. Do you think most people can conceive of how much our lives will change with 9.3 billion people living on this planet?

From: Whole Foods Market


Excerpt from the website of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology Please visit their website to read the original story:


Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has over the years been involved in technology development and transfer. In this regard, the Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer (CITT) has won several local and international awards; in recognition of innovative technologies aimed at addressing the needs of rural and peri-urban population. Therefore the vision of KIST senior management is not only to maintain the achievements but to continuously undertake research and development activities that address the challenges of the society.

Amongst recent research and development initiatives is partnership between KIST and cooperative of local potters to develop water filters. The objective of the partnership is twofold. One is to adapt the colloidal silver ceramic water filter technology, and two, to transfer the knowledge to local potters and communities. Through this partnership, ceramic water filters shall be produced locally. As part of the initiative, a demonstration factory for colloidal silver ceramic water filter shall be built at Kacyiru Sector, Gasabo District.

The impact of this initiative is obvious: to reduce considerably the spread of water borne diseases and mortality rate among Rwandan population. Further, the technology transfer to the rural population will enable Rwanda to meet vision 2020, EDPRS and MDGs health targets.


U.N.: "Sick Water" Deadlier than War

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 22, 2010

Water-Related Diseases Account for 3.7 Percent of Deaths Worldwide, More Than All Forms of Violence, Report Says

  • (CBS/AP)


More people die from polluted water every year than from all forms of violence, including war, the U.N. said in a report Monday that highlights the need for clean drinking water.

Continue reading “U.N.: "Sick Water" Deadlier than War”

Silver Filters: Providing Clean Water to All

From Yemen Today Magazine:

31/12/2009 06:48:00 by : Sammi Aryani

Khadija al-Zafeni walks two kilometers to collect water from a rain-fed cistern three times a day. “My children were constantly sick because of the water.

Khadija al-Zafeni walks two kilometers to collect water from a rain-fed cistern three times a day. “My children were constantly sick because of the water. Each of them was stricken with severe diarrhea every month. It would reach the point to which they would be skinny and frail and sleep all day. For a mother, it’s hard to watch your children suffer like that.” This is the daily condition for the staggering 44 percent of Yemenis who currently live without access to clean drinking water, one of life’s most basic necessities, but also the one most easily taken for granted. However, Khadija is gratefully using the past tense, for, thanks to Richard Boni’s colloidal silver filters, her family has now been granted the right to drink water free of disease. As the Silver Filter Company expands, this could be the reality for the rest of Yemen’s rural and urban poor.

Continue reading “Silver Filters: Providing Clean Water to All”

Yemen: war and water woes

Excerpt from International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) website: Full Article


ICRC water engineer Johannes Bruwer is just back from a 14-month assignment in Sa’ada, Yemen. He explains why access to safe water is crucial to Yemenis affected by the conflict and how the ICRC has responded to some of the most urgent needs.

Which part of Yemen is most affected by water shortages?

The entire country is affected by water shortages. Because diesel fuel is in short supply, many water pumps are not operating, and using trucks to transport water is becoming so expensive that safe drinking water could soon be unaffordable for most Yemenis. The price of water more than doubled during the month of August in areas affected by the conflict. In the city of Dahyan, which is probably one of the worst affected areas, the ICRC is trying to ease the situation by providing diesel.


Malahit, Northern Yemen. Community members receive colloidal silver water filters distributed by ICRC.

©ICRC / R. Gallway / V-P-YE-E-00640 / April 2008

A special problem facing Yemen is that its population is scattered throughout the country, which makes it difficult to supply everyone on a regular basis.

Full Article

Yemen Silver Filter Factory Update

Submitted by Richard Boni

This article is an update of activities since April 2007 that have led to commercial production of CWFs under trade name Silver Filters. Much can happen in a year.

In April/May 2007, Burt Cohen of Potters Without Borders visited Yemen and, among other things, taught us how to make Colloidal Silver Impregnated Ceramic Water Filters, a/k/a Silver Filters. This was a tremendous learning experience that put us solidly on the road to the successful production of Silver Filters. During the months immediately following the training, we practiced producing filters while attempting to market the concept to NGOs and other organizations working in health, water resources and community development. We were at the time receiving support from the Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeir-Integrated Water Resources Management Project (gtz_IWRM). This support not only enabled the training by Mr. Cohen but also provided an avenue for a Pilot Project to test the effectiveness of Silver Filters in the field, in a Yemeni context. We initiated 2 pilot projects, one with CARE Yemen and the other with the Social Fund for Development, a local organization supported by the donor community and the Yemeni government. For these pilot projects we produced 290 filters for distribution to six rural communities, four of which depend upon surface water for drinking water. We are currently awaiting the official results of the Pilot Projects but initial anecdotes indicate that the users, especially those using surface water only, like the filters. I interviewed one woman who had the filter of one month. “Have you cleaned the filter yet,” I asked. “Three times,” she replied proudly. I asked her how much she would be willing to pay for a filter. “I would whatever price required.” Perhaps a bit emotional and even irrational but telling nevertheless.

During the past year or so, when we had no orders for Silver Filters, the owner of the factory, potter Ali Saleh Salman, was simultaneously excited and frustrated; where were the filter orders? A Yemeni saying, ‘Patience is beautiful’ was my response. In the meantime, we produced clay ovens for the wholesale market and flower pots and planters that were marketed directly to the expatriate community. Our customers for flower pots in 2007 included the German and American Embassies, the Ambassadorial Residences of the British and Royal Netherlands Embassies as well as other diplomats, oil company employees, aid workers and the well-to-do Yemeni elite. Because local pottery is merely heated clay, there is a definite market for improved Garden Ceramics. Our problem is that due to limited capacity at this time we are unable to produce Silver Filters and Garden Ceramics at the same time. Our plan is to establish the Silver Filter business and then expand the site in order to increase our production capacity to meet the high demand for improved pottery. If all goes well, we will build another kiln.

In pursuit of opportunities to market Silver Filters, at the end of February 2008 we signed a contract with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to produce 1000 Silver Filters. This was our first sizeable contract for Silver Filters; until then we had produced roughly 400 filters over an 8 month period so producing 1000 filters in 2 months would test our mettle. Because Silver Filters take up a lot of shelf time and space, the first order of business was to build additional shelving. We had room to dry and store about 340 filters and needed room for at least 500 or more. However, shelving is expensive in Yemen and we had to find an inexpensive way to meet our need. Old wooden palettes served the purpose well and we built shelves to hold about 800 filters!

Our first day of pressing produced 31 filters, a bit below our projected target of 40. We had to move employees around in a way that matched production needs with their capabilities and skills. Over the next 2 weeks we continued adjusting and improving until we reached 60 filters a day. Our production team consists of two employees mixing and weighing clay, three on the press and record-keeping and one doing odd chores to facilitate production. Two others are responsible for firing, flow testing, Colloidal Silver application and preparing filters for distribution. In the end, however, the team works together on whatever is required that day. It should be noted that the site is without electricity and all mixing and screening is done by hand, a process that takes considerable time and effort. From our perspective, therefore, pressing 60 filters a day is impressive. After a week or so we began firing.

The kiln is a gas-fired brick kiln designed in 2006 by Bernd Phannkuche, the publisher of New Ceramics and one time kiln designer. It is designed to use sixteen 20kg gas canisters, eight at a time: If pressure is lost during the firing, the kilnsman can switch to the other bank of eight gas tanks. These large canisters, however, are uncommon and hard to refill in Sana’a. Also, the refills are not always complete, i.e. they are often not filled completely. Gas tanks are not weighed and the customer never knows how much gas is in the tank at the time of purchase. Smaller 10kg canisters are ubiquitous in Sana’a and are usually filled to capacity. Our potter Ali Saleh figured out that he can fire the filters as well with the small tanks as with the larger ones and so uses the smaller tanks.

During the first five or six firings, we mapped the filter placement; this enabled us to observe the kiln placement for each filter and match that with the results of the flow tests. Our target firing temperature began at 900C but because filters at the bottom of the kiln were flowing at only 1l/hr and our flow rate target is between 1.5 and 3 liters per hour, we adjusted the target temperature to 940C. This has resulted in a greater number of filters passing the flow test with an average of 1.9 – 2.3 l/hr. It should be noted also that we adjusted our clay-sawdust mix to 8.540kg. – .460kg, from 8.550kg – .450kg, a minor move that nevertheless seems to have improved average flow rates. I haven’t made recent calculations but it seems that the average flow rate has increased slightly over the last month or so. Because it takes at least a day for the kiln to cool, we fire every other day or so.

During the 1.5 months we produced for ICRC, we ended up with about 2000 filters; not bad for a start-up facility. After the ICRC production run, a few of the employees went to their village for a family visit. Over the next week or so we began planning for the expansion of the site. We are currently building a storage room to store finished filters, receptacles, brushes, taps, etc. and we need to replace part of the roof over production site. We recently received a new order from the ICRC for 800 more filters while CARE Yemen has ordered 360 and we continue to seek additional contracts. In the meantime we have been selling Silver Filters to individual customers. Our long time supporter, gtz-IWRM purchased 90 filters and CARE Yemen bought 10. These sales help spread the word about the filters and win converts, if you will. There is considerable interest in Silver Filters largely because Yemen lacks potable water in all geographic areas and across all levels of society. Drinking water can be purchased in nearly every small town, large village or city but this is expensive, especially for the less fortunate, i.e. most of the population.

In June 2008, gtz-IWRM will host a workshop to publicize the results from the Pilot Projects. We hope to invite all organizations involved with water in Yemen as well as private investors, traders, etc. As with all businesses, we hope to expand production and develop distribution channels. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, Silver Filters will become a household name in Yemen.

Ceramics may alleviate Yemen's water crisis


Yemen Observer:

Posted in:
News Varieties

Written By: Ali Marmaduke

Article Date: Jul 7, 2007 – 12:51:36 AM


Yemen’s only high-temperature kiln, built by GTZ to produce ceramic water filters and irrigation pots

These days, political violence makes headlines more frequently than
development issues. America’s war in Iraq, Al Qaeda’s war
against…everyone, and ethnic cleansing in Sudan are hot topics in the
media and among the world’s leaders. But, in Yemen, drinking
water often poses the biggest threat to survival. Every day there are
5,000 deaths worldwide, mainly children under the age of five, due to
diarrhea caused by unsafe water, according to a 2006 World Health
Organization report. Diseases related to inadequate water sanitation
cause an estimated 80 percent of all sickness in the developing world.

In Yemen, only 21.5 percent of the rural population has access to safe
drinking water and only 19 percent have adequate water sanitation
facilities, according to a 2006 GTZ (German Technological Cooperation)
study. Infant and child mortality rates are 71 deaths per 1000
live births and 105 deaths per 1000 live births, respectively. Those
rates are higher in rural areas. The U.N.’s Millennium Development Goal
is to halve the number of people unable to reach or afford safe
drinking water by the year 2015. But achieving that goal would require
that at least 125,000 people be provided access to safe water supplies
each day before the 2015 target. The shortfall in the
availability of drinking and irrigation water in Yemen is primarily due
to overpopulation.

And the fact that an estimated 70 percent of the country’s water supply
is used irrigate Qat fields exacerbates the crisis. Although the Yemeni
government has still not implemented adequate measures to correct this
situation, international humanitarian organizations are working with
the Yemeni National Water Resource Authority to provide rural and urban
populations with the means to sanitize drinking water and to more
efficiently irrigate crops to conserve the country’s dwindling water
supply. According to the NWRA website, “The water situation
[in Yemen] is becoming progressively worse because of population growth
and increasing water demand.

The government is fully aware of the challenge this poses to the
country; therefore, it has given a very high priority to water
security.” The German government has been one of the main donors to the
improvement efforts of Yemen’s water sector. Other donors include the
World Bank and the Dutch government. The 21.5 percent of Yemen’s rural
population that has access to safe drinking water gained that access in
the last two decades, according to the GTZ website. In 2006, the
international NGO, Integrated Water Resource Management sent a team to
Yemen to work to determine what would be required to introduce two
low-tech products that would alleviate Yemen’s water crisis.

The first product was an unglazed indigenous clay pot (called ‘jarar’
in Arabic) that is buried neck deep underground and periodically filled
with water. When full, the pot saturates the surrounding soil with
water that is sucked through the porous clay when the ground is dry and
delivers water directly to the plant root zone. The water remains
inside the pot when the soil has reached its moisture capacity.
This method helps reduce the amount of water required for agriculture
by up to 70 percent. It also increases farmer incomes by
improving plant survival, increasing plant yields by up to 70 percent,
and increasing fruit and vegetable size.

However, the traditional clay pots produced in Yemen quickly
disintegrate and break with prolonged exposure to water because they
are not fired at temperatures high enough to alter the molecular
structure of the clay into durable ceramic. The second product that the
IWRM team is currently introducing to the Yemeni market is a water
filtration device that was developed in Guatemala in 1981 by the
Central American Industrial Research Institute and promoted by Potters
for Peace, a member of the World Health Organization’s International
Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage.
The device was created to be a low cost filter that could be fabricated
at the community level and provide potable water to the poorest of the


A diagram and photo of a silver filter, and the press used to mold them uniformly

It is called a Colloidal Silver Impregnated Ceramic Water Filter. “I call them ‘silver filters’ for short, because I can’t come up with a better name,” said Rich Boni, an American independent contractor working with GTZ. Boni has lived in Yemen for nearly 11 years and he is well acquainted with Yemen’s water crisis. “One silver filter can provide a day’s worth of drinking water for a family
of six,” Boni said. “I know that kind of flies in the face of
reality here in Yemen because the average size of a Yemeni family is eight, but this is the largest size we make right now.”

The silver filters are 10” deep and 11” wide buckets that resemble
flower pots. They are made from local clay. After being
fired in a kiln, the buckets are impregnated with a liquid colloidal
silver solution that acts as a bactericide. The bucket is placed inside
a receptacle, made of plastic or clay, and is filled with water.
That water filters through the bucket at a rate of 2-2.5 liters per
hour and rests in the receptacle until poured through a spigot and
consumed. “The flow rate of the filters has been tested
over and over to make sure that water remains within the ceramic long
enough to kill all the bacteria, but short enough to be convenient,”
Boni said. Clinical test results in 11 countries have shown that silver
filters to eliminate 99.88 percent of water born disease agents.

Institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
USAID have participated in the testing of silver filters and have
officially confirmed their efficacy. Silver filters can be sold
for YR 2,200, require brief cleaning with a hard brush once a month,
last for up to two years, and can be produced by local potters using
local materials. However, GTZ’s and IWRM’s two-part solution to Yemen’s
water crisis had two requisites. The first requirement was
potters. Yemen has a tradition of clay production and plenty of
potters who use a traditional method of clay pot production. But it
quickly became evident that the crude gas-fired kilns used by these
potters were unsafe (two months ago a kiln exploded in Dhamar, killing
a child) and incapable of firing clay at a high enough temperature to
create ceramic pottery (traditional kilns only reach about 500 degrees

So the second requirement was an environmentally friendly gas-fired
kiln that was safe, could fire at high temperatures (up to 900 degrees
Celcius) and could be built entirely of local materials. German Dr.
Michael Klinger was a part of the IWRM team in charge of introducing
and promoting water conservation technology in Yemen. He
suggested that if the German government was going to fund the
GTZ-directed construction of a high temperature kiln for the production
of irrigation jarar, it would be prudent to begin producing silver
filters, which also require firing at high temperature.

His advice did not fall on deaf ears. About a year later, at
the Modern Pottery Workship, just outside of Sana’a on Wadi Dhahr Road,
the 120 cubic feet, propane-fueled high-temperature kiln was built and
a press was constructed, with the supervision of a representative of
Potters for Peace, to produce uniformly molded clay buckets for silver
filters. But, currently, there is only one high-heat kiln
and only one family of potters in the entire Republic of Yemen to
produce these ceramic products. Ali Saleh Sa’ad, 35, is
originally from al-Raima. His father was a potter.

His grandfather was a potter. His family has been potters
“since the time of the Prophet Mohammad,” he said, grinning
proudly. GTZ, Rich Boni, and Dr. Klingler of the IWRM team
formed a relationship with Sa’ad about a year ago. The Sa’ad
family owns and lives at the Modern Pottery Workshop and includes, Ali,
his wife, parents, brother, and his two cousins. The workshop is
constructed of corrugated sheet metal supported by wood beams and a
cinderblock foundation. Ali and his family went into debt to buy
the land and to contribute to the construction of the kiln.

Ali has been repaying that debt by making tannoors (small traditional
Yemeni clay ovens) for his debtors to sell. Each tannoor oven
sells for around YR 600, but GTZ and Rich Boni are hoping the Yemeni
market will be receptive to the jarars and silver filters that the
Modern Pottery Workshop is producing so Ali can focus on their
production and can make a more significant income. “I really want to be
associated with this project because I think it could change a lot of
people’s lives all over this country,” said Boni. “And I think
this is going to spread because we’re not working as a huge
bureaucratic organization that takes forever to do the smallest

We just need to find an NGO that will go around the country and educate
people about how to uses these filters and how to clean them once a
month.” There has been some interest in the silver filters and jarars
around Yemen. Before the Modern Pottery Workshop began production
this year, 500 silver filters were imported from a Potters for Peace
workshop in Cambodia to the Shabwa Province with very good acceptance
among the recipients.

Potters For Peace, Filters For Life

First Published in tce (News and Views from the process industries, published monthly by the Institution of Chemical Engineers)
Wendy Laursen Reports on successful humanitarian and engineering collaborations for securing clean water supplies for all.

Leaders from 189 countries met in New York in 2000 to reaffirm their commitment to the principles of human dignity and equity.

One of the specific Millenium Goals outlined at the time was to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015. Subsequently, in 2003, the years 2005 to 2015 were proclaimed as the International decade for Action, “Water for Life”.

Individuals and organizations around the world are working to achieve this goal but there is still the potential for those with science, engineering, marketing or communications expertise to save millions of lives.
Water related diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, trachoma, hepatitis, and intestinal worms afflict millions of people worldwide. Approximately 1.8m people die each year from diarroheal diseases alone. This equates to about 5000 deaths a day or one death every 15 seconds, 90% of which are children under the age of five.

Download full article (PDF 277kb): TCE Article

On view at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum through September 23, 2007.

Potters Without Borders and Potters for Peace had the opportunity to display Ceramic Water Filter Technology at a recent exhibition in New York.

“Designers, engineers, students and professors, architects, and social entrepreneurs from all over the globe are devising cost-effective ways to increase access to food and water, energy, education, healthcare, revenue-generating activities, and affordable transportation for those who most need them. And an increasing number of initiatives are providing solutions for underserved populations in developed countries such as the United States.”

Ceramic Water Filter, Cambodia
Designers: Dr. Fernando Mazariegos, Ron Rivera (Potters for Peace), and International Development Enterprises (IDE) Cambodia
Manufacturer: Local private factory set up by IDE
Cambodia, 2006
Ceramic clay, plastic container, colloidal silver paint
Dimensions: 3.5’ h x 2’ w x 2’ d

Ceramic Water Filter, Nepal
Designer: IDE Nepal
Manufacturer: Local potter set up by IDE
Nepal, 2006
Ceramic clay, plastic container, colloidal silver paint
Dimensions: 3.5’ h x 2’ w x 2’ d

Ceramic Water Filter, Nicaragua
Designers: Dr. Fernando Mazariegos and Ron Rivera (Potters for Peace)
Manufacturer: Filtron
Nicaragua and Guatemala, 2006
Local Nicaraguan terra-cotta clay, sawdust
Dimensions: 18” h x 15” diameter
In use in: Cambodia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, India, Nepal, Indonesia (Bali), Ghana, Iraq, Myanmar, Sudan, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

Originally designed by Dr. Fernando Mazareigos, a Guatemalan chemist, the Ceramic Water Filter combines the filtration capability of ceramic material with the anti-bacteriological qualities of colloidal silver. This filter has basic, yet impressive, impact on the lives of the rural poor, dramatically decreasing diarrhea, days of school or work missed due to illness, and medical expenses. A sociologist and potter, Ron Rivera of Potters for Peace redesigned the filter to standardize mass production in sixteen small production facilities in fourteen different countries. It is estimated that over 500,000 people have used the filter.

Potters fired up about clean water

By kristin froneman Morning Star Staff Jan 24 2007
Photo: Lisa vandervelde/morning star

Burt Cohen helps University of Seattle mechanical engineering student Andrew Lybarger create a ceramic water filter.

For the past 15 years, Burt Cohen has entertained visitors by throwing some clay on a wheel and heating up his kiln to make bowls, mugs and plates at his pottery studio at O’Keefe Ranch. However, this past weekend, Cohen opened his studio to work on a project that goes beyond art, one that will affect people’s lives in developing countries that go without clean drinking water.

A group of engineering students from Seattle University were at the ranch to learn about a ceramic water filtration project, and specifically how the filters are made. Found to be an effective method to clean out the four most common water-borne diseases – E. coli, giardia, cholera and cryptosporidium – the filters are part of a global-scale project Cohen has been working on as a founding member and principle director of Potters without Borders.

“The WHO (World Health Organization) has come up with a protocol to deal with problems with water by 50 per cent by 2015,” said Cohen. “In Vancouver, two million people had no access to clean water without going to commercial means. “We are riding on a crest of need. In the last year, we have had many requests to set up ceramic water filter factories around the world.”

Cohen’s involvement withceramic water filtration came after he joined Potters for Peace, an international non-governmental and non-profit organization. His work as a production potter had already taken him around the world. He worked in India and immigrated to the North Okanagan from Japan in the late-’70s. “I came out of the technical side of things. I am trained in small industry and was a kiln builder by trade,” said Cohen. Potters without Borders, which was modelled after Potters for Peace, was founded by Cohen and six other individuals from B.C. a year ago. “There were some things we could do here in Canada that the international organization, which is based in the U.S., could not, including work in Cuba… We have a little more freedom,” said Cohen.

It has been a busy few months for Potters without Borders, which has received a number of requests to develop ceramic water filter manufacturing facilities overseas. “We have an open source philosophy… Anyone can make the filters. We give them the assistance to form a facility,” said Cohen. “We don’t make the filters to send to them. We provide the expertise and cause for the filters to be made there. We also give them the protocol, and assistance and monitor the filters once they are up and running.”

The filters are made from source clay and mixed with a noncombustible material such as sawdust (rice husks have been used in Southeast Asia). All the material is then dried and screened, and put into a mixer with water until it is blended into a plastic consistency. It is then weighed, placed into a mould, and pressed under a heavy weight using a hydraulic press. The finished form is then dried and fired to 850 to 950 degrees Celsius, which Cohen says is cold for ceramics. When the filters emerge, they are float tested and made sure the water travels through them removing the harmful bacteria.

Cohen has developed a research station at his O’Keefe Ranch studio, and has developed relationships with two universities in Washington state, Seattle and Gonzaga in Spokane, to develop and work on aspects of the technology, hence, the weekend workshop with the Seattle students. “Professor Dr. Frank Shih at the Seattle University College of Engineering has been my liaison for this research,” said Cohen. “We have given them a list of our research needs, and they have chosen an area they want to work with. “(The students) are addressing the area of combustible material. And in order for them to do their research, they needed to learn how to form the filters, and that’s why they were here.”

Cohen has also spoken to medical doctor William Duke at the University of Victoria, who had agreed to assess the filters. “He will tell us what we are doing right, and what we are doing wrong.” The members of Potters without Borders, which just received non-profit status from the province, are not compensated for their work, and depend on donations to their foundation. “We’ve been pushed very fast into this the last year. We can use as much material assistance as possible,” said Cohen. Those wanting more information on Potters Without Borders can go to the Web site at A silent auction of mainly pottery will also be held to support the organization during the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Shooglenifty concert, March 30 at the Salmon Arm Rec Centre.

© Copyright 2007 Vernon Morning Star

PWB Front page Potters Guild Newsletter

Attached find the latest newsletter from the BC Potters Guild, just published. They have featured Potters Without Border on the cover. This is quite a boost to out profile in the Province and I have great hope that this will create a lot of interest for us as well as water filter projects. Steel for the new filter press has been ordered and arrives on Friday. Two mechanics, Art Gavel and Barry Cawston have agreed to help machine, assemble and modify the design for our purposes so that we can begin forming filters this month here in the Okanagan. On the 11th I meet with students from Gonzaga University on Spokane who are also going
to be producing filters in preparation for a project in Benin, West Africa.Stay warm


Download newsletter PDF 1.2MB: Nov06PGNL.pdf

Water for Health Declared a Human Right

Water for Health Declared a Human Right

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 4, 2002 (ENS) – Safe and secure drinking water is a human right, a United Nations committee has declared formally for the first time. “Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic commodity,” the committee said, siding with those who object to the privatization of water supplies.
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights took the unprecedented step of agreeing on a General Comment on water as a human right, saying, “Water is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights.”

General Comment is an interpretation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This one was signed on November 27 as the Committee wound up its three week autumn session. Although the Covenant does not expressly refer to the word “water,” the committee determined that the right to water is “clearly implicit” in the rights contained in two sections of the Covenant. The General Comment means that the 145 countries which have ratified the Covenant “have a constant and continuing duty” to progressively ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure drinking water and sanitation facilities – equitably and without discrimination. “Countries will be required to ‘respect, protect and fulfil’ individuals’ rights to safe drinking water and sanitation,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, quoting from the General Comment.
The General Comment specifically recognizes that water, like health, is an essential element for achieving other human rights, such as the rights to adequate food and nutrition, housing and education.
“This is a major boost in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people without access to water and sanitation by 2015 – two pre-requisites for health,” Dr. Brundtland said. An estimated 1.1 billion of the world’s people, roughly one in six, do not have access to clean drinking water, according to WHO figures. Sanitation progress has also been slow, and some 2.4 billion people, about one in every 2.5 individuals, still do not have access to a safe latrine. Inadequate water and sanitation is “a major cause of poverty and the growing disparity between rich and poor,” WHO said. “The fact that water is now regarded as a basic human right will give all members of the Alliance an effective tool to make a real difference at country level,” said Dr. Brundtland, a physician and former Norwegian prime minister.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization is an international coalition of partners. It includes national governments, international organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank; philanthropic institutions, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Children’s Vaccine Program, and the Rockefeller Foundation; the private sector, represented by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations; as well as research and public health institutions.
The General Comment provides a tool for civil society to hold governments accountable for ensuring equitable access to water. It is intended to focus attention and activities on the poor and vulnerable, the committee says.

The General Comment states, “The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses.”
“While those uses vary between cultures, an adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, to reduce the risk of water related disease and to provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements,” the text states. “The right to water contains both freedom and entitlements,” the committee states in its Comment. “The freedoms include the right to maintain access to existing water supplies necessary for the right to water; and the right to be free from interference, such as the right to be free from arbitrary disconnections or contamination of water supplies.”

Sufficient water should be obtained in a sustainable manner, the committee said, to ensure that “the right can be realized for present and future generations.”
The formal statement of water and sanitation as a human right is intended as a framework to assist governments in establishing effective policies and strategies that yield “real benefits for health and society,” WHO said. The world health agency associates 3.4 million deaths each year with inadequate water and sanitation. Diseases such as malaria, cholera, dysentery, schistosomiasis, infectious hepatitis and diarrhoea are the killers. Dr. Brundtland estimates that one third of the global burden of disease, in all age groups, can be attributed to environmental risk factors. Over 40 percent of this burden falls on children under five years of age, even though they make up only about 10 percent of the world’s population. The director-general calls this area “an urgent priority for WHO’s work.”