Ryberg EC, Chu C, Kim JH. Edible Dye-Enhanced Solar Disinfection with Safety Indication. Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Nov 20;52(22):13361-13369. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b03866.
The rural developing world faces disproportional inequity in drinking water access, where point-of-use water treatment technologies often fail to achieve adequate levels of pathogen removal, especially for viruses. Solar disinfection (SODIS) is practiced because of its universal applicability and low implementation cost, though the excessively long treatment time and lack of safety indication hinder wider implementation. This study presents an enhanced SODIS scheme that utilizes erythrosine-a common food dye-as a photosensitizer to produce singlet oxygen for virus inactivation and to indicate the completion of water disinfection through photobleaching color change. Experimental results and predictions based on global solar irradiance data suggest that over 99.99% inactivation could be achieved within 5 min in the majority of developing countries, reducing the time for SODIS by 2 orders of magnitude. Preserving the low cost of traditional SODIS, erythrosine embodies edible dye-enhanced SODIS, an efficient water disinfection method that could potentially be used by governments and non-governmental organizations to improve drinking water quality in rural developing communities.