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Jennifer Hwang DO

  • Graduate 2017
Scholarly Research Project

Scholarly Research Project


Water-related diseases are prevalent in developing countries and pose particular dangers to young children who lack access to clean drinking water. Diarrheal diseases occur through drinking water sources contaminated with bacteria and viruses. Shoulder to Shoulder (STS) Pittsburgh, a local nonprofit, addresses health concerns in San Jose del Negrito, Honduras.

We used the community-oriented primary care (COPC) model to work with the community, which identified the lack of safe drinking water as a major health problem. Poverty and infrastructure are two major barriers to safe drinking water methods in rural Honduran communities. Although methods for safe drinking water delivery have been tested and are available, the majority of rural Hondurans lack an affordable option.

Low cost silver nanoparticle paper filter is an effective and safe water purification method that reduces or eliminates bacterial pathogens. In this study, we distributed silver nanoparticle (AgNP) papers through a novel cup-bottle system to 25 households in Cerro Prieto, a rural community with minimal access to clean water and higher rates of diarrheal diseases compared to neighboring towns. Children were given educational pictorial pamphlets covering safe water practices.

We hypothesized that using AgNP paper filtration along with childhood education would be an effective method to improve safe water access. Using weekly household surveys, we demonstrated the silver nanoparticle paper filtration system is acceptable, adaptable and successful in achieving this goal.  Microbiological water quality assays showed that AgNP filters eliminate e.coli pathogens. Next, we hope to identify barriers to purchasing the AgNP filters and devices.