About My Internship With The WHO
By Yarrow L.
The main project I will focus on for the duration of my internship is a comprehensive literature review and data collection of log reduction values for various different treatment technologies for drinking water, in order to provide data for the newest edition of the World Health Organization Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. Specifically, I will work on table 7.7 in the guidelines, which pertains to the reduction of bacteria, viruses and protozoa achieved by water treatment technologies at drinking-water treatment plants for large communities. The most recent, fourth edition, guidelines were based purely on “expert opinion” data and did not consider the plethora of data from peer-reviewed studies from all around the world, which the updated edition will do. The table is broken down into treatment processes, including pretreatment, coagulation flocculation and sedimentation, filtration like membrane filtration or granular filtration, and primary disinfection like chlorine, ozone, or UV. For each treatment process, the log reduction value is given for bacteria, viruses, and protozoa.
So far, this task has required a lot of concentration and organizational skills. Tools like Zotero, a reference database, and Web Plot digitizer, a tool for extracting values from graphs, are very helpful in this process. The data I extract is entered into an excel spreadsheet, which will later be put into another database with all the data for the project. I have never seen an excel sheet this large, and in order for the data to be kept neat and decipherable, the spreadsheet must be very organized, which for me includes color coding (yay!). My background in microbiology, and environmental health in general, has made it much easier to understand the studies I am examining.
The main support I will need from my coworkers for this project is assistance in making judgement calls on different studies, and maybe some help with calculations for log reduction values or CT values for example. On my first day, I got an extensive orientation of the project and the different tools like Zotero that will be vital for the project, but for the most part I think it will be fairly independent with as much or as little help and support as I end up requiring. The two other people working directly with me have both been very helpful and will be able to give me support when I need it.