This Drinkable Book is Attacking Waterborne Diseases on Two Fronts
We can read books on the reasons why we should purify our water, but what about using those very pages as a purifying filter for our water instead?
Nearly 2.2 million children die annually from water-born diseases. Safe drinking water can be difficult to come by in developing countries due to lack of investment in water systems, inadequate maintenance, leakage, vandalism, contaminated water sources, and a lack of education about the benefits of purifying water. At any moment, approximately one half of all people in developing countries suffer from one or more of the six main diseases caused by unsanitary water, such as diarrhea, ascaris, dracunculiasis, hookworm, schistosomiasis, and trachoma.
Researchers have been working on practical solutions to water purification for years, leading to the many options available today. KlarAqua, winner of the 2006 National Idea to Product Competition, is a low-cost, clay-based, in-home water purification system composed of two plastic buckets and three clay filters comprised of a specified clay-sawdust mix. LifeStraw produces both personal and community purifiers for use in developing countries as well as a survival tool for camping and hiking expeditions with a "Follow the Liters" campaign, where with every product you buy, a school child in a developing country will be provided with safe drinking water for a school year through a LifeStraw purification system donation.
These purification products are designed to make clean water easily accessible. But when it comes to a unique product that is effective and easy to use, Dr. Teri Dankovich and the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, McGill University, and the University of Virginia have created a completely different means of tackling the clean water supply issue.
The "Drinkable Book" combines treated paper with printed information on how and why water should be filtered. Nanoparticles of silver and copper in the pages remove more than 99% of bacteria as the water passes through, with results comparable to US tap water, and some of the samples had a bacteria count of zero. One page can clean up to 100 liters of water. A book could filter a person's water supply for four years. According to Dr. Dankovich, "All you need to do is tear out a paper, put it in a simple filter holder and pour water into it from rivers, streams, wells etc and out comes clean water."
Though the "Drinkable Book" has proven itself in the lab and on real water sources, there are plans for even further advances in the page technology, such as testing the ability to filter protozoa, viruses, and parasites. But the "Drinkable Book" shows promise as a purification technique that is easy to use, cheap, long lasting, educational, and a unique take on water sanitation.