Email Print Share

Imagine That! - UV Water Light

Imagine That!
Audio Play Audio

Imagine That! - UV Water Light

Credit: NSF/Finger Lakes Productions International

Audio Transcript:

If you've experienced Montezuma's revenge, you know what water can do. But a billion people have to drink water like this every day.

Imagine That!

When you turn on your kitchen faucet, you want to be pretty darn sure clean water will come out. Yet in many of the world's less developed countries and communities, most water receives inadequate treatment, or none at all...causing up to five million deaths every year.

With all those problems, you'd think people in those areas would never drink from the tap. Problem is, clean water is nearly impossible for them to get. Not only is it pricey, at about twenty to forty dollars a month, but it's also rarely available, as a result of undeveloped treatment and delivery systems.

But scientists may have found a good solution to this critical problem...researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a device called a UV tube. When drinking water is run through the tube, a UV light suspended above the water damages the proteins and DNA of contaminating bacteria and microorganisms, making them unable to reproduce or, possibly, even survive.

At a total cost of about four dollars a month or less, this new device, just becoming available to those areas that really need it, could save everyone a lot of trips... to the bathroom, the hospital, and the bank. I'm Eric Phillips.

"Imagine That!" covers projects funded by the U.S. government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you by you! Learn more at

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.