In a breakthrough development that could bring safe drinking water to villagers in third-world countries across the world, people actually may use the pages of special books to filter bacteria-infested water.

The “drinkable book,” created by Dr. Teri Dankovich, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, developed and tested the book’s technology for the past several years. Noting that 663 million people across the globe do not have access to clean drinking water, the technology is “directed towards communities in developing countries.”

The pages of these amazing books contain nanoparticles of silver or copper, which kill bacteria living in the water as it passes through. Dankovich completed 25 trials in South Africa where he tested water from different contaminated water sources.

Filtering water through the book’s pages resulted in the successful removal of 99% of bacteria, making the water similar to that of United States tap water. While tiny amounts of silver or copper dripped into the water, the levels were well within the limits of safe drinking water.

Dankovich instructed that, “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 – and dead bacteria as well. Ions come off the surface of the [silver or copper] nanoparticles, and those are absorbed by the [bacterial] microbes.” Essentially, the bugs absorb the silver or copper ions as they travel through the page.

It was after several years of work and success in the lab that Dankovich took his research overseas. Over the past two years, he worked with the charities Water is Life and iDE to test the technology in the field. In the field trials, most of the water samples were cleared of greater than 99% of the bacteria. In most samples, the bacteria levels dropped to 0%.

Dankovich acknowledged that the drinkable book only works if people know how to properly use it. The book itself contains instructions on how to successfully and safely filter water from contaminated sources.

“Overall, out of all the technologies that are available – ceramic filters, UV sterilization and so on – this is a promising one, because it’s cheap, and it’s a catchy idea that people can get hold of and understand.”

One drinkable book can filter about 25 gallons of water, an average African villager’s drinking supply for four years.

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