water filter

Contributed by evelyn shoults

In the West we now now take clean water for granted (although sadly that is not yet true in the rest of the world). But until 170 years ago, the contaminated water of the overcrowded cities transmitted diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

It was the pioneering work of physician John Snow recording the location of deaths from cholera in the epidemic of 1854 with the majority clustered around one water pump in Soho, that showed the spread was waterborne. Charles Chamberland, a French microbiologist working with Louis Pasteur developed in 1884 a porcelain filter with pores smaller than the bacteria, making it possible to remove them completely from the filtered water. His German contemporary Wilhelm Berkefeld's water filter was effective in reducing the toll of the 1892 outbreak of cholera in Hamburg. (The company still manufactures filters today).

The photo here shows an example of both a Chamberland and a Berkefeld filter. Each filter has 2 compartments one of which houses the porcelain 'candle' (shown on either side of each filter in the photo). Clean water is then dispensed from the larger outer receptacle.

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after 1884


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