Back in early June 2016 we posted a blog about NSF International (i.e., the organization that, among many other things, created NSF-350 — the standard recipes for testing water treatment systems). We talked about various recipes for bath water, laundry water, and grey water. We also talked a bit about how we’ve developed our own recipes for kitchen sink water and toilet water.
We’re now starting to run these recipes through our prototype system (see pictures of the system in the July 13 blog) and soon we’ll have some video and data to share about how well the system is operating under simulated normal and high use situations.
Next, however, we’d like to tweak our recipes a bit to provide an even better estimate of what end-users in rural Alaska might find themselves sending down the drain — What small food scraps or juices might get through? What kinds of personal care products (e.g., lotions, perfumes, shampoos) are most common? What cleaners (e.g., antibacterial soaps, bleach) do folks have access to and prefer to use? What over-the-counter and prescription medications are taken? Answers to these questions will provide important insights into the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of real-life wastewater, and will help us ensure that the treatment system is built to handle real-life applications.
So — how to answer all those questions regarding what folks might be sending down the drain? We’ll be taking a three-pronged approach: First, during our next community visit, we’ll take a closer look at what the local stores are stocking. Second, we’ll ask potential end-users what additional products they might be ordering for delivery or carrying back home with them after trips to hub communities, as well as what other products they wish they had and might procure in the near future. Third, we’ll invite folks to participate in a diary activity.
In this instance, we are talking about a daily activity diary. In exchange for entry into a prize raffle, participants will complete a 14-day diary in which they will log what foods they eat, what beverages they drink, what personal care products they use, what medications they take, and what cleaning products they use three times each day — once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and then again in the evening. We’ll take this de-identified information (i.e., it won’t be possible to match participants with their diary entries) and use it to modify our wastewater recipes as necessary. Then, a new round of system testing will commence.
Diaries and recipes and waste, who knew!?