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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UGA: MPH Students Develop Water Tablet to Address Diarrhea Crisis

Three University of Georgia students are developing a tablet that could help global communities access clean water.

Mr. John Parker, a master of public health (MPH) student at University of Georgia College of Public Health is leading the effort. During the Fall 2019 semester, Mr. Parker was researching the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti following the recent deadly earthquake.

As he learned more about the causes, symptoms, and, critically, the spread of the illness, one question came to the forefront of his mind. Water sanitation and oral rehydration are crucial aspects to the prevention of cholera — but why were these processes separate?

“People were using bleach to clean their water, and then using oral rehydration salts and mixing them separately. I thought, ‘I wonder if these exist together,’” said Mr. Parker. Soon, he had an idea: a layered tablet design, with a time-delayed oral rehydration solution.

To bring his idea to life, Mr. Parker recruited fellow MPH student Mr. Lee Brackman, whose focus is environmental health science, and biochemical engineering major Mr. Nick Robertson. Together they developed Purlyte LLC, to produce and market the two-in-one package.

The PurLyte tablet features an outer layer of chlorine, which works to disinfect the water, making it safe to drink after 30 minutes. Then, following the World Health Organization’s recommendations for effective oral rehydration, electrolytes are slowly released from the layer below, working to improve the taste and reintroducing important salts and sugars that are often lost in sweat and diarrhea.

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