Clean Water, Clean Life

Microorganisms are a major threat to human health. In their family business Livinguard Rohini Swamy 12C and Shivani Swamy 14C are set to change outcomes with "The world's first and only permanent disinfectant in the form of a textile."

By Michelle Valigursky

Story Photo
Livinguard Technologies Water Purification creates safe water supplies.

“Livinguard™ has worked tirelessly to improve the standards of living in India, a country of more than 1.25 billion people of which more than twenty percent live below poverty line,” says Rohini Swamy 12C, technology and research associate. “We know that microorganisms – bacteria, viruses and fungi – are a major threat to human health. Livinguard is going to change the way the poor of this world drink water.”

In the healthcare space, for example, “Livinguard can save millions of lives that are lost due to Healthcare Associated Infections,” says Shivani Swamy 14C. Proven effective against bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and viruses such as Polio Sabin, “The Livinguard™ technology can be applied to everything from curtains and clothes to hospital linens.”

Rohini shares, “I’ve seen firsthand how the incidence of water-borne diseases had decreased, school attendance had increased, and people were no longer traveling long distances to collect clean water. Livinguard can boost productivity of the masses and I believe it is the ’magic bullet’ that can bring us one step closer to ending poverty.”

Livinguard Family

Launching the Livinguard Mission

Great processes begin with great ideas. “Livinguard is the brain-child of our father, Sanjeev Swamy, who has always been in the textile business,” says Rohini. “On one of his business trips, he met with a British Army officer who complained about skin infections caused by wearing the same clothes for extended periods of time in the field without showering.”

The problem “inspired our dad to develop a technology that would kill such organisms, without harming human skin,” says Rohini. “After years of R&D came up with Livinguard technology. Through trial and error he was able to diversify the applications of Livinguard, which can be infinite. I worked with the company during the early stages as a technology and research associate, taking on responsibilities ranging from marketing and sales, to project management and client services. Shivani took over for me when I decided to pursue my Master’s of Science in Global Health.”

Shivani started working with Livinguard less than a month after graduating from Emory. “In addition to learning the ropes from Rohini and taking over her tasks, my responsibilities have included liaising with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) sponsors, doing research, and recently, helping with R&D of new products,” she says. “One of our latest attempts of infection and disease control has been introducing TB (Tuberculosis) and pollution control masks at health forums and panels in the hopes of putting an end to this trend of global epidemics.”

Now, Livinguard aligns with NGOs and corporate sponsors to alleviate one of the major causes of illnesses and death in India: contaminated water. Shivani points out, “Our mission has been focused and clear from the start. We deliver pure, bacteria/virus-free water, from the dirtiest, muddiest, contaminated water, without electricity at as low as 1 paise per liter (INR 0.01/ USD 0.0002).”

So how does the decontamination process work? Rohini explains. “When Livinguard™ is used to treat the textile, it impregnates the entire cross-section of the fabric. The applied proprietary chemistry is such that it forms tiny knives throughout the fabric that eventually pierce the membranes of microorganisms that come in contact with the fabric.” She adds, “disinfection is achieved via a mechanical kill action as opposed to conventional chemical killing methods, making microbial resistance nearly impossible.”

Sharing Clean Water

Global health progress is often founded in grassroots educational efforts. “This has involved creating awareness, offering an affordable and acceptable solution, and fostering responsibility towards the product,” says Shivani. “Each of these three steps is critical to creating change. Without awareness, one will not try to change an existing practice; without an affordable and acceptable solution, one cannot try to change an existing practice; without responsibility, one will not perpetuate a change to an existing practice.”

When devastating natural disasters struck Nepal and Kashmir, “Livinguard donated a few hundred household filters to the relief efforts. NGOs on the ground were able to place the filters strategically and provide thousands of people with clean drinking water that had been collected from any available freshwater source - including the muddy floodwater,” Rohini says. “I was at Georgetown at the time, but it was amazing to hear about how Livinguard was expanding its horizons and reaching out to those who needed our help. Making a difference like this and contributing to the relief effort even in a small way, exemplifies Livinguard’s mission and vision, and makes me proud to have been part of it.”

Livinguard placed more than 30,000 low cost household filters in individual homes and more than 50 community systems in schools, hospitals, offices, clinics, temples, and villages throughout India. “Some of our systems were donated by us, while most are purchased by corporates, foundations, and philanthropists, and then distributed. These systems can produce anything between 3 and 2000 liters per hour without the use of electricity. They involve a 3-stage purification process - turbidity removal, organic matter and odor removal, and finally, Livinguard™ microbiological contamination removal. Our community systems are also capable of removing heavy metals and chemicals from the water without electricity,” Rohini explains.

“It has been incredible to see the trajectory of the company over the course of this year and the amount that has been accomplished,” says Rohini.

The Livinguard Sisters

Remarkable Progress in Reducing Illness

“About a month ago, I had the opportunity to speak to one of the elders in a village about 4.5 hours from Mumbai. They had been using Livinguard water filters for a little over a year at that point. While thanking Livinguard and the charitable trust that funded the water project in the village, he told us that it was the first time in his living memory that they went through an entire monsoon without a single villager falling ill,” Shivani recalls. “To hear those words and see the emotion behind his gratitude truly goes to show the potential impact Livinguard can have globally.”

“Both of us were involved with the company during different stages of its growth. What I had dreamed that Livinguard would accomplish is Shivani’s reality today,” Rohini reflects “From a few small health centers and schools, to entire villages and towns protected by Livinguard, the growth has been colossal. We have a strong presence in the WASH Sector in India today and together we will change the lives of many more.”

Editor’s Note: For more information, you may reach the company at info@livinguard.com, at 1.800.121.2445, or through its website.

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Michelle Valigursky