'Drinkable Book' aims to turn the page on dirty drinking water
Published Tuesday, August 18, 2015 2:20PM EDT
When looking for a solution to providing developing countries with clean drinking water, Teri Dankovich may have found the answer in a book.
The American chemistry researcher has helped develop a book whose pages can be torn out to be used as water filters. She calls it The Drinkable Book.
Dankovich says she came up with the idea while doing graduate work in Montreal.
“It came out of my PhD research at McGill University,” she told CTV News Channel, speaking from Boston Tuesday. “I was assigned a project to create an antimicrobial paper and I thought it would be really fascinating to use this as a water purifier.”
The book’s pages are made of regular wood fibre pulp, but the resulting pages are extra thick. Each page is printed with information on water safety both in English and in the language spoken by those in the area where the filter is to be used.
Users of the book can simply pull out a page, slide it into the slot of the book’s accompanying filter box and then pour water through the page into the box. The resulting water is then ready to drink.
“This happens through the action of silver nanoparticles,” Dankovich explained. The nanoparticles release silver ions, which are poisonous to bacteria.
“Bacteria will die with very little exposure to silver,” she said.
While the silver can leach from the paper, the amount that enters the water is well below the World Health Organization limits for the metal.
So far the Drinkable Book paper has been shown to kill 99.99 per cent of bacteria in water used in lab tests. That water came from 25 drinking water sources in South Africa, Ghana, Bangladesh, Kenya, Haiti and India.
On Monday, Dankovich presented The Drinkable Book at this year’s meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Each page can clean up to 100 litres of water, while a whole book can filter one person’s water needs for four years.
Dankovich says her team will continue to work with focus groups in Bangladesh to get insights on the usability of the paper filters.
“Our next step is to basically is to give these to people to use them and see if they get the same results we’ve gotten so far, and also to do health monitoring,” she said.
The non-profit group WATERisLIFE recently worked with Dnakovich to create The Drinkable Book video seen below.