No, most microfilters sold in the camping and outdoor sport market are neither designed nor capable of removing viruses. With a rating of 0.1 – 0.2 microns, these filters do an excellent job at removing sediment, particulate, bacteria, and protozoan cysts but viruses are less than 0.1 micron in size and simply too small to be captured.
The following are examples of waterborne viruses not removed by 0.1 – 0.2 micron rated microfilters commonly found in outdoor sporting good stores and used by camping, hiking, trekking, hunting and fishing and adventure sport enthusiasts:
- Hepatitis A and E
- Rotavirus A and B
- H5N1 (Bird Flu)
There is a growing body of scientific work indicating that viruses are present in many of our lakes, rivers and streams. Viruses like Norovirus, Adenoviruses, and Avian Influenza are now taken seriously by health agencies around the world including Health Canada, the CDC in the United States, and WHO. Health Canada has stated explicitly that the role of viruses as waterborne pathogens is becoming increasingly recognized in Canadian waters. The presence of waterborne enteric viruses is directly related to fecal contamination from people or in some cases waterfowl such as ducks. While many remote lakes, rivers, and streams may not be subject to human fecal contamination, those considering surface water sources for drinking water should always be aware of their surroundings.
- Are there cities, towns, or other human activities upstream of your location discharging untreated or under-treated sewage into the water source?
- Are you drawing water from near a beach or area used for recreational purposes?
- Are there populations of waterfowl in the area?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then viruses may be present. Some of the best recreational-use, portable water filters will remove sediment, bacteria and protozoan cysts down to 0.1-0.2 microns but even that isn fine enough to remove viruses. For maximum protection against all microbiological contaminants, a combined system of microfiltration followed by disinfection with a chlorine based tablet like Aquatabs is recommended. Considering that Aquatabs are inexpensive, do not have an unpalatable taste or odour, and are easy to carry, it is a relatively simple way to inactivate viruses in drinking water taken from recreational waterways. Survivor Filter.
To learn more, click here to read our latest report titled “Are There Viruses In Our Recreational Lakes, Rivers, and Streams?”.