American Journal of Food and Nutrition
ISSN (Print): 2374-1155 ISSN (Online): 2374-1163 Website: Editor-in-chief: Mihalis Panagiotidis
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Food and Nutrition. 2015, 3(2), 47-55
DOI: 10.12691/ajfn-3-2-3
Open AccessReview Article

Review on Slow Sand Filtration in Removing Microbial Contamination and Particles from Drinking Water

Ephrem Guchi1,

1Samara University, School of Natural and Computational Sciences, Department of Applied Biology, Samara, Ethiopia

Pub. Date: April 22, 2015

Cite this paper:
Ephrem Guchi. Review on Slow Sand Filtration in Removing Microbial Contamination and Particles from Drinking Water. American Journal of Food and Nutrition. 2015; 3(2):47-55. doi: 10.12691/ajfn-3-2-3


The improvement of water quality is closely associated with man-environment relationships. There should be a dialogue between all actors and the community when undertaking water and sanitation activities. For positive results and better sustainability, the community should be involved and participate at all stages of water development and environmental sanitation schemes. A combination of safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene practices like hand washing is a pre-requisite for morbidity and mortality rate reduction, especially among under five years old children in developing countries. To reduce the incidence and prevalence of diarrhoeal diseases, improvements in the availability, quantity, and quality of water, improved sanitation, and general personal and environmental hygiene are required. The majority of people in developing countries do not have access to piped drinking water and must carry; transport and store water within their homes and in the process the quality of water may deteriorate. Therefore, slow sand filtration has been recognized as an appropriate technology for drinking water treatment in rural areas, and is recognized as a suitable filtration technology for removing water borne pathogens and reducing turbidity. It is capable of improving the physical, chemical, and microbiological quality of water in a single treatment process without the addition of chemicals, and can produce an effluent low in turbidity and free of bacteria, parasites and viruses.

bacteria drinking water slow sand filter treatment turbidity

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  APHA. (1998). Standards methods for the examination of water and waste water, 20th ed. American Public Health Association, Washington DC. 9: 56-66.
[2]  Baker, M.N. (1948). The Quest for pure water. The American Water Works Association Inc., New York.pp. 7-76.
[3]  Bartram, J., Lewis, K., Lenton, R. and Wright, A. (2005). Focusing on improved water and sanitation for health. The Lancet. 365: 810-812.
[4]  Bartram, J. and Johns, W. (1988). Water supply in PHC: Experience of Amazon Indian communities. Water line: 7(1): 28-31.
[5]  Barret, J.M., Bryck, J., Collins, M.R., Janonis, B.A. and Logsdon, G.S. (1991). Manual of Design for Slow Sand Filtration. AWWA Research Foundation and AWWA. Denever, CO.pp. 21-57.
[6]  Bellamy, W.D., Silverman, G.P., Hendricks, D.W. and Logsdon G.S. (1985a). Removing Giardia cysts with slow sand Filtration. Journal of American Water Works Associations. 77(2): 52-60.
[7]  Bellamy, W.D., Silverman, G.P.and Hendricks, D.W. (1985b). Filtration of Giardia cysts and other substances, vol.2. Slow Sand Filtration.USEPA. Cincinnati, OH, EPA- 600/2-85/026.pp. 6-87.
[8]  Bellamy, W.D., Hendricks, D.W. and Logsdon G.S. (1985C). Slow Sand Filtration: Influences of selected process variables. Journal of American Water Works Associations 77(12): 62.
[9]  Brink, D.R. and Parks, S. (1996). Update on slow sand/ Advanced Biological Filtration. In: Advances in Slow Sand and Alternative Biological Filtration. Graham, N., Collins, R., John Wiley& Sons Ltd., England, 1996.pp. 80-121.
[10]  Boot, M. T. (1987). Guidelines for hygiene education in community water supply and sanitation. "Making the links" occasional paper series Nr.5, pp. 27-35.
[11]  Boot, M., Burgers, L.and Vanwijk, C. (1988). Hygiene education in water supply and sanitation programs. IRC International water and sanitation center.
[12]  Burman, N.P. (1962). Biological control of Slow Sand Filtration. Effluent water treatment Journal.2: 674.
[13]  Clark, J.A. and Pagel, J.E. (1996). Pollution indicator bacteria associated with municipal raw and drinking water supplies. Canadian Journal of Microbiology. 23: 465-470.
[14]  Cleasby, J.L., Hilmoe, D.J. and Dimitracopoulos, C.J. (1984a). Slow Sand and Direct Inline Filtration of surface water. Journal of American Water Works Associations. 8: 44-55.
[15]  Cleasby, J.L., Hilmoe, D.J. and Dimitracopoulos, C.J. and Diaz-Bossio, L.m. (1984b). Effective Filtration Methods for small water supplies. EPA- 600/52- 84-088.pp. 21.
[16]  Cleasby, J.L. (1991). Source water quality and pretreatment options for Slow Sand Filters. In Slow Sand Filtration. American Society of Civil Engineers New York. pp. 5.
[17]  Dai, X. and Hozalski, R. (2005). Effect of NOM and Biofilm on the removal of Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in Rapid Filters. Water Research. 36: 3523-3532.
[18]  Data, H.K. and Chaudhuri, M. (1991). Microbial purification in slow sand filters. Environmental Toxicology and Water Quality: An international Journal. 6: 239- 247.
[19]  Devadas, R. P. (1984). Water related problems and education illustrations from Tamil Nadu, India. Department of water in Environment and Society, Sweden.
[20]  Duke, W. and Baker, D. (2005). The use and performance of the biosand filter in the Artibonite valley of Haiti: a field study of 107 households. Rural and Remote Health. 6: 570.
[21]  Dunkan, A. (1988). The Ecology of Slow Sand Filters. In: Slow Sand Filtration: Recent Development in Water Treatment Technology, Graham, N.J.D., Ellis Horwood Ltd., England, 1988.pp. 5-21.
[22]  Eighmy, T.T. and Collins, M.R. (1988). Modifications to the slow rate Filtration Process for Improved Trihalometane precursor Removal. In: Slow Sand Filtration: Recent Developments in water Treatment Technology, Graham, N.J.D., Ellis Horwood Ltd., England, 1988. pp.1-97.
[23]  Eighmy, T.T. and Collins, M.R., Malley, J.P., Jr., Royce, J. and Morgan, D. (1993). Biological Enhanced Slow Sand Filtration for Removal of Natural Organic Matter. AWWA Research Foundation, Denever, CO.pp. 33-69.
[24]  Ellis, K.V. (1985). Slow Sand Filtration. CRC Critical Reviews in Environmental Control. 15(4): 315-354.
[25]  Ellis, K. V. and Aydin, M. E. (1995). Penetration of solids and Biological Activity in to Slow Sand Filters. Water Research. 29(5):1333-1341.
[26]  Esrey, S. A., Feachem, R. G. and Hughes, J. M. (1985). Interventions for the control of diarrhoel disease among young children: Improving water supplies and excreta disposal facilities. Bulletin of World Health Organization. 63(4): 757-772.
[27]  Feachem, R. G. (1980). Bacterial standards for drinking water quality in developing countries. Lancet 980: 2: 255-256.
[28]  Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Ministry of Water Resources. (2002). Ethiopian Guidelines specification for Drinking Water Quality.
[29]  Fogel, D., Isaac-Renton, J., Guasparini, R., Moorehead, W. and Ongerth, J. (1993). Removing Giardia and Cryptosporidium by slow sand Filtration. Jour. AWWA. November, 1993.pp. 1-56.
[30]  Fox, K. R., Miltner, R.J., Logsdon, G.S., Dicks, D. L. and Drolet, L. F. (1984). Pilot- plant studies of Slow -Rate Filtration. Journal of American Water Works Associations.76 (12): 62-68.
[31]  Fox, K. R., Graham, N.J.D. and Collins, M. R. (1994). Slow Sand Filtration Today: an Introduction Review. In: Slow Sand Filtration: an International compilation of Recent Scientific and Operational Development. AWWA, Denever, CO, USA, p. 1-8.
[32]  Galvis, G., Latorre, J. and Visscher, J.T. (1998). Multi- Stage Filtration: An Innovative Water Treatment Technology. IRC International Water and Sanitation Center, The Hague, Netherlands, TP series, No 34 E.
[33]  Galvis, G., Latorre, J.and Galvies, A. (2002). Multi-Stage Filtration Technology. In small community water supplies. IRC Technical Paper Series 40. IRC International Water and Sanitation Center, 2002. pp.121-345.
[34]  Genthe, B. and Strauss, N. (1997). The effect of type of water supply on water quality in a developing country in South Africa. Water Science Technology, 35(11-12): 35-40.
[35]  George, C. (2005). Assessment and comparison of microbial quality of drinking water from influent and effluent of SSF in Chikwawa, Malawi. JABU, University of Strathclyde.
[36]  Gundry, S., Wright, J. and Conroy, R. (2004). A systematic review of the health outcomes related to household water quality in developing countries. Journal of water and Health. 2(1): 1-13.
[37]  Haarhoff, J. and Cleasby, J.L. (1991). Biological and Physical mechanisms in slow sand Filtration. In slow sand Filtration. American Society of Civil Engineers.pp.34-98.
[38]  Howaard, G., Ince, M. and Smith, M. (2003). Rapid Assessment of Drinking water Quality: A Handbook for Implementation-Joint Monitoring for water supply and sanitation. WEDC, Loughborough University.
[39]  Hrubec. (1991). Behavior of some substituted Benzene, Pesticides and Synthetic Agents during SSF. In H2O. 24(13): 348-351.
[40]  Hsu, B. M., Huang, C. and Pan, J. R. (2001). Filtration behaviors of Giardia and Cryptosporidium-Ionic strength and PH effects. Water Research. 35(16): 77-82.
[41]  Huck, P. M. (1987). Reduction in Organic Levels and Disinfection Demand by Slow Sand Filtration in Western Europe. Alberta, Canada, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Alberta.
[42]  Huisman, L. and Wood, W. E. (1974). Slow Sand Filtration. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.pp. 1-89.
[43]  Jim, W., Stephen, G. and Ronan, C. (2004). Household drinking water in developing countries: a systematic review of microbiological contamination between source and point-of-use. Tropical Medicine and International Health. 9(1): 106.
[44]  Kaltenthaler, E.C., Drasar, B.S. and Potter, C.W. (1996). The use of microbiology in the study of hygiene behavior. Microbios, 88 (354): 35-43.
[45]  Kelly, L. J. (1990). Expedition to Nepal: Research project aims to prevent waterborne disease. Journal of Environmental Health. 53(3): 230-327.
[46]  Lindskog, P. and Lindskog, U. (1988). Bacteria contamination of water in rural areas. An intervention study in Malawi. Journal of Tropical Medicine, 91: 1-7.
[47]  Lioyd, B. (1973). The construction of a sand profile sampler: Its use in study of the vorticella populations and General Intestinal Micro fauna of Slow Sand Filter. Water Research. 7: 963-973.
[48]  Lioyd, B. J. (1996). The significance of protozoa predation and Adsorption for the removal of bacteria by slow sand Filtration. In: Advances in slow sand and Alternative Biological Filtration. Graham, N., Collins, R., John Wiley and Sons Ltd., England, 1996.pp. 79-97.
[49]  Logan, A.J., Steveik, T.K., Siegrist, R. L. and Ronn, R. M. (2001). Transport and fate of Cryptosporidium parvum Oocysts in Intermittent Sand Filters. Water Research.35(18): 4359-4369.
[50]  Logsdon, G. S. (1993). Control of Giardia cysts by Filtration: The Laboratory's Role.Proc. 1983 AWWA WQTC, Norfolk, Va.pp. 34-45.
[51]  Mc Connell, L. J. (1984). Evaluation of the slow Rate Sand Filtration process for treatment of Drinking water containing Virus and Bacteria. thesis. Logan, UT, USA, Utah State University.
[52]  Mintz, E. D. and Reiff, F. M. (1995). Safe water treatment and storage in the home: A practical strategy to prevent water borne disease. Journal of American Medical Association. 273(12): 948-953.
[53]  Moll, D. M. and Summers, R. S. (1996). Performance, Biomass and Community structure profiles of Biological Rapid Media Filters. In: Advances in slow sand and Alternative Biological Filtration. Graham, N., Collins, R., John Wiley and Sons Ltd., England, 1996. pp. 85.
[54]  Montgomery, J.M. (1985). Water Treatment: Principles and Design. John Wiley & Sons.pp. 1-432.
[55]  Muhammad, N., Ellis, K. and Smith, M. D. (1996). 0ptimization of Slow Sand Filtration. Reaching the unreached: Challenges for the 21st century,WEDC Conference, WEDC, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, pp. 283-285.
[56]  Ngoma, P. M. (1992). Clean water at low cost. The magazine of the World Health Organization. July-August, 1992. pp. 27.
[57]  Pinfold. H. and Horan, N. (1991). Water use and pattern of contamination in rural north- east Thailand. Waterline. 9(4): 27-30.
[58]  Pointer, S. F. B. and Slade, J. S. (1977). The removal of viruses by Slow Sand Filtration. Progress in water Technology. A Journal of the International Association of water pollution Research. 9(1): 75-88.
[59]  Quick, R. E., Venczel, L. V. and Gonzalez, O. (1996). Narrow-mouthed water storage vessels and In-situ chlorination in a Bolivia community: A simple method to improve drinking water quality. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 54(5): 511- 516.
[60]  Rachwal, A.J., Bauer, M.J. and West, J.T. (1998). Advanced Techniques for Upgrading Large Scale Slow Sand Filters. In: slow sand filtration: Recent Development in Water Treatment Technology, Graham, N. J. D. Ltd., England, 1998. pp. 9.
[61]  Rittmann, B. E. and Huck, P. M. (1989). Biological treatment of public water supplies. CRC Crit. Rev. Enviromental Control. 19(2): 119-184.
[62]  Sadar, M. T. (1998). Suspended particles removal by slow sand filtration. Water Science Technology. 21(7): 45-67.
[63]  Sattar, S. A., Chauret, C. and Springthorpe, V. S. (1999). Giardia cyst and Cryptosporidium oocyst survival in water shade and factors affecting inactivation. AWWARF and AWWA, ISBN 0-89867-975-3, pp. 75- 107.
[64]  Schuler, P. F., Ghosh, M. M. and Boutros, S. N. (1988). Comparing the removal of Giardia and Cryptosporidium using slow sand and Diatomaceous earth filtration. Proc. 1988 AWWA Ann. Conf., Orlando, Fla.pp. 210-320.
[65]  Schuler, P. F., Ghosh, M. M. (1991). Slow Sand Filtration of cysts and other particulates. AWWA Annual Conference Proceedings 1991, AWWA, Denever, Co. pp. 235-252.
[66]  Simango, C. and Rukure, G. (1991). Potential sources of Campylobacter species in the homes of farm workerers in Zimbabwe. Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 94(6): 388-392.
[67]  Sobsey, M.D. (2003). Managing water in the home: accelerated health gains from improved water supply. (WHO/ SDE/ WSH/02.07). Geneva, World Health Organization.pp. 83.
[68]  Swerdlow, D. L., Mintz, E. D., Rodriguez, M., Tejada, E., Ocamp, C., Espejo, L.,Greene, K. D., Saldana, W., Semiario, L. and Tauxe, R V. (1992). Water borne transmission of epidemic cholera in Trujillo, Peru: lessons for a continent at risk. Lancet. 340(8810): 28-32.
[69]  Thompson, T. and Khan, S. (2003). Situation analysis and epidemiology of infectious disease transmission. A south-Asian regional perspective. International Journal of Environmental Health Research. 13: S29- S39.
[70]  Timms, S., Slade, J. S. and Fricker, C. R. (1995). Removal of Cryptosporidium by Slow Sand Filtration. Water Science Technology. 31: 81-84.
[71]  Troyan, J. J. and Hansen, S. P. (1989). Treatment of microbial contaminants in potable water supplies. Noyes Data Corporation, Park Ridge, N. J. pp.5-54.
[72]  Uhl, W. and Gimbel, R. (2000). Investigations on the performance of fast- rate biological filters in drinking water treatment. In: Advances in slow sand and Alternative biological filtration. Graham, N., Collins, R., John Wiley & Sons Ltd., England, 2000.pp. 1-321.
[73]  USEPA. (1997). Small system compliance list for the surface water treatment rule. EPA 815-R-97-002.pp. 7-45.
[74]  USEPA. (2001). Cryptosporidium: human health criteria document. USEPA, Washington, DC. EPA-822-K-94-001.pp. 5-60.
[75]  Van der Hoek, J. P., Bonne, P. A. C., Kors, L. J. and Tewelscher, R. A. G. (1996). Slow sand filtration: Effect of grain size and filtration rate on operation and performance. In: Advances in Slow Sand and Alternative biological filtration. Graham, N., Collins, R., John Wiley & Sons Ltd., England, 1996. pp, 87.
[76]  Van Dijk, J. C. and Ooman, J. H. C. (1978). Slow sand filtration for community water supply in developing countries: a design and construction manual. WHO International Reference Center for Community Water Supply, The Hague, Netherlands, chap. 4.
[77]  Visscher, J. T., Paramasiram, R., Raman, A. and Heijnen, H. A. (1987). Slow sand filtration for community water supply: Planning, Design, Construction, Operation and Maintenance. Technical paper series: No. 24. The Hague, The Netherlands, IRC International water and sanitation center.pp, 1-21.
[78]  Weber-Shirk, M. L. and Dick, R. I. (1997a). Biological mechanisms in slow sand filters. Journal of American Water Works Associations. 89(2):72-83.
[79]  Weber-Shirk, M. L. and Dick, R. I. (1997b). Physical-Chemical mechanism in slow sand filters. Journal of American Water Works Associations. 89(1): 87-100.
[80]  Weber-Shirk, M. L. and Dick, R. I. (1999). Bacterivory by a chrysophyte in slow sand filters. Water Research., 33(3): 631-638.
[81]  Weber-Shirk, M. L. (2002). Enhancing slow sand filter performance with an Acid- Soluble Seston Extract. Water Research. 36(2002): 4753- 4756.
[82]  Wegelin, M. (1988). Roughing gravel filters for suspended solids removal. In: slow sand filtration: Recent developments in water treatment technology, Graham, N. J.D., Ellis Horwood Ltd., England, 1988.pp.86.
[83]  Welte, B. and Montiel, A. (1996). Removal of BDOC by Slow Sand Filtration: comparison with granular activated carbon and effect of temperature. In: Advances in slow sand and Alternative biological filtration. Graham, N., Collins, R., John Wiley & Sons Ltd., England, 1996.pp. 60.
[84]  WHO. (1984). Guidelines for drinking water quality, vol. 1: Recommendations. World Health Organization, Geneva. 1: 40
[85]  WHO. (1984). International Standards for drinking water. 3rd guidelines for drinking water quality. Vol. 2: Health criteria and other supporting information. Geneva, World Health Organization.
[86]  WHO. (1993). Guidelines for cholera control. World Health Organization, Geneva.1:8-2
[87]  WHO. (2004a). World Health Report. Geneva, World Health Organization. 1: 1-540.
[88]  WHO. (2003). World Health Report: Shaping our future. Geneva, World Health Organization.
[89]  WHO. (2000). The World Health Report: Making a difference. Geneva, World Health Organization.
[90]  WHO. (2004b). WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. 3rd ed. Geneva, World Health Organization, pp. 143.
[91]  Williams, P. G. (1987). A study of bacteria reduction by slow sand filtration. Paper presented at the 1987 IWPC biennial conference, Port Elizabeth. National Institute for water Research, Pretoria, South Africa.
[92]  Yahya, M. T., Cluff, C. B. and Gerba, C. P. (1993). Virus removal by Slow Sand Filtration and Nanofilteration. Water Science Technology. 27(3): 445- 448.