Gadgil honored as 2004 Tech Museum Awards Laureate

Dr. Ashok Gadgil, vice president of scientific affairs for WaterHealth Int'l and scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, named a 2004 Tech Museum Awards Laureate. Developer of UV device, he's among top five finalists to share $250,000 prize for applying technology to improve quality of life worldwide...

LAKE FOREST, CA, Sept. 16, 2004 (PRNewswire) -- Dr. Ashok Gadgil, vice president of scientific affairs for WaterHealth International Inc. (WHI), and senior staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been named a 2004 Tech Museum Awards Laureate.

The Tech Museum of Innovation, in San Jose, Calif., announced 25 Laureates for the prestigious awards program, which celebrates those who leverage new and existing technologies to benefit humanity. Dr. Gadgil, one of five Laureates in the Health Category Award, was honored for his development of low-cost, ultraviolet (UV) water treatment systems.

"Waterborne diseases take a staggering toll on the world's population. International aid organizations site the lack of access to clean water as a leading cause of death and disease in developing countries, killing about 5 million people annually and causing 3.3 billion illnesses," said Dr. Gadgil. "I am honored by the Tech Museum of Innovation's award. I sincerely hope that this additional recognition of our technology will help accelerate commercialization and deployment of WHI water treatment systems globally -- particularly to populations long-overlooked by emerging technologies."

WHI is a privately held corporation based in Lake Forest, Calif., whose primary mission is the development and distribution of innovative products and services to provide potable water to underserved areas around the world. The company aims to alleviate the suffering and economic loss caused by water-born diseases through market-leading innovations in the area of distributed water purification systems worldwide.

Waterborne pathogens kill up to four million children under age 5 annually, via the diarrheal diseases they cause. Those who survive often do so at a serious disadvantage to their counterparts in the developed world; chronic diarrhea robs children of nutrients vital to healthy brain tissue development. Though World Health Organization studies show investment in water purification and sanitation can reduce waterborne diseases by up to 75%, many developing countries simply cannot spare the resources required to build capital-intensive, centralized water treatment facilities and distribution networks for many of their peri-urban and rural areas.

WHI provides simple, scalable water purification systems requiring low capital expenditures and operating costs. These systems are practical and affordable for a wide range of uses, and are uniquely poised to serve the populations who need clean water today. Dr. Gadgil developed and patented his award-winning technology at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Simply put, Dr. Gadgil's invention disinfects water by exposing it to UV light, which disables the DNA of microbial contaminants, helping to make the water safe for human consumption.

Unlike other UV water treatment systems, Dr. Gadgil's invention works through gravitational water flow and does not require a pressurized system. The power requirements for WHI's systems are a fraction of other UV water purification systems and allow the company's systems to be operated via a variety of renewable, distributed generation energy sources.

This is not the first of Dr. Gadgil's awards. His technology is part of the Smithsonian Institute's permanent collection of public health inventions at the National Museum of American History. His technology was cited as the "Best of What's New" in 1996. The same year, he was honored with the Discover Magazine Award for Technology Innovation (Environment Category). U.S. News and World Report listed Dr. Gadgil's water treatment technology among "20 Ways to Save the World" in 1997, and in 1999 his invention was honored again by Discover Magazine -- this time among their list of the "Best of the Decade."

WHI products are currently deployed in Latin America, and the Philippines; they will soon be deployed to a number of sites in India as well as West Africa. The Company is also testing an Emergency Relief Unit with the aim of serving refugees displaced by natural disasters and political turmoil.

"The Tech Museum of Innovation assembled an independent, international committee of scientists to judge over 380 applicants from 80 countries. Dr. Gadgil's water treatment system was among the 25 laureates honored by them, and among 5 in the area of Health -- another outstanding accomplishment," stated Dr. Tralance Addy, president and CEO of WHI. "We are proud of Dr. Gadgil and the recognition he continues to receive from science and technology experts, as well as international humanitarian organizations. With a new round of funding and several products under development, WHI is well-positioned to take this technology to the markets that need it most."

On Nov. 10, at a black tie Awards Gala, Silicon Valley leaders and delegates from the United Nations will join together to honor all 25 Laureates, and one Laureate from each of five categories will be awarded a $50,000 cash honorarium.

"The Tech Museum Awards uniquely recognizes those who use technology to benefit mankind," said The Tech's president and CEO Peter Giles. "By celebrating this spirit of innovation, The Tech seeks to inspire a new generation of socially conscious leaders who will leverage technology to address the myriad of challenges we face as a global community."

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