Originally Posted by Mr French
Aquamira is chlorine... bleach is chlorine... It's recommended to use a <5% solution if you mix it yourself. MSR's solution is 3.5% and they sell it to treat viruses after using their sweetwater filter. The MSR Aquatabs make me uncomfortable because it is a pesticide and can cause irreversible eye damage or death if not used properly. They recommend using a face mask and goggles while using it, and no contact with skin!
Aqua Mira is chlorine dioxide, not chlorine. Radically different compounds in both structure and use. Aqua Mira has been considered safe for consumption, once mixed properly in water, for decades.
We filtered and bleached water on our last Grand trip because of the issue of fecal contamination on long group trips. No matter how thorough people claim to be hygienically I have found backcountry endeavors with lots of people to be prime means of spreading those little bugs. Its relatively rare to show symptoms on a trip but it is becoming more common and many people are asymptomatic.
I never understood my friends who drink straight from the source on multi-week expeditions. I actually consider it quite selfish as a GI issue from contagions can easily become a justifiable reason to evacuate in the desert (or elsewhere).
I will be using Aqua Mira on future trips for treating group water, its just so much easier and healthier than the bleach option. I will also be carrying a UV filter in my personal rocket box to treat my personal bottles (as mentioned I think a major culprit is people not the source, and communal water jugs can easily be contaminated). But then again I have a sensitive gut and had giardia on the AT and never need to experience that again. I also bought a nice hand washing station, seems like the only ethical thing to do considering I am a carrier. I think a hand washing station should be listed under the water treatment list on long trips and its very presence increases hygiene via peer pressure.