Advertisement

Go on, rip up 'The Drinkable Book' -- it could be a boon for the developing world

Go on, rip up 'The Drinkable Book' -- it could be a boon for the developing world
"The Drinkable Book" has instructions on how to clean bacteria from water -- using its own pages. (The Drinkable Book)

Lovers of the written word have always believed that books can save lives. A new book being developed by scientists could follow through on that promise in a very literal way.

Chemist Teri Dankovich has come up with a book with removable pages that can kill bacteria, making contaminated water safe to drink, the BBC reports. Called "The Drinkable Book," the volume is full of pages treated with small silver and copper particles.

Those pages are meant to be torn out and inserted into a filter box. Users then pour water over the paper, which filters out microorganisms that can cause diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis. Printed on the pages of the book are instructions detailing how to use the paper, along with information about water safety.

SIGN UP for the free Essential Arts & Culture newsletter >>

Field tests using the book have yielded promising results, Dankovich said, removing over 99% of bacteria present in contaminated water. She worked with charities Water Is Life and iDE Bangladesh to perform field tests.

"There was one site where there was literally raw sewage being dumped into the stream, which had very high levels of bacteria," she said. "But we were really impressed with the performance of the paper; it was able to kill the bacteria almost completely in those samples."

Advertisement

One scientist, environmental engineer Daniele Lantagne, cautions that it's unclear whether the treated paper can remove viruses and protozoa, which also cause disease. "This is promising, but it's not going to save the world tomorrow," Lantagne told the BBC. "They've completed an important step, and there are more to go through."

Each book could theoretically produce enough clean water to last one person four years. "The Drinkable Book" is not yet in production, though the charities sponsoring the project hope it will be available soon.

Advertisement
Advertisement