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Innovative Books Built to Clean Drinking Water Around the World

By By Heather Janssen, Staff Writer
September 09, 2015, 6:31:08 AM EDT

Through innovative technology, those around the world without clean drinking water can now drink clean water by using the Drinkable Book.

"The Drinkable Book is both a water filter and an instruction manual for how and why to clean drinking water," the pAge Drinking Paper website said.

"The information that is printed on the paper is edible ink, so it doesn't hurt anybody but it teaches about taking care of clean water, sanitation and hygiene and gives them some things that continue to education them," Ken Surritte, founder and chief executive officer of WATERisLIFE said.


The Drinkable Book, unlike other types of water filtration sources, is low in cost, portable and simplistic and leaves no off taste to the clean water, the pAge Drinking Paper said.

"The majority of people affected by a poor water supply and inadequate sanitation and hygiene are located in developing countries," the pAge Drinking Paper said.

According to the World Health Organization/ UNICEF Joint Monitoring Project, 663 million people globally are currently without access to improved drinking water.

The filter works by pouring the untreated water through treated paper that contains silver nanoparticles, which kill bacteria in the water as it passes through the filter.

Dr. Theresa Dankovich, a postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, invented the bactericidal paper, pAge, for her PhD at McGill University in Canada.

"It was originally just a filter paper that I was researching which I worked on during my PhD. I was doing a lot of laboratory experiments to see if the filter paper could kill bacteria and show that in a lab," Dankovich said.

Dankovich went to the University of Virginia for her postdoc research position where she tested the filter papers in the field in South Africa.

"After that, I was contacted by DDB New York Ad Agency who then were interested in taking the filter papers and bounding them in a book. We then started working with them in what became known as the Drinkable Book project," Dankovich said.


The filter pages have been tested in Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, India and Bangladesh with assistance from WATERisLIFE, a non-profit organization that has been involved with the project since the beginning and serves as an international partner that helps spread awareness and testing.

The trials showed that the filter paper removed over 99 percent of the bacteria in the water samples tested.

"After the first run of these field tests, we saw again really high levels of bacteria being killed by these papers," Dankovich said.

The pAge Drinking Paper organization estimates that about 26 gallons (100 liters) of water can be cleaned by one filter. They added that the filters can last a couple of weeks to even a month, so the Drinkable Book could provide the tools to filter safe drinking water for about a year.

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Successful trials of the filter paper are one of the key stages in this project; the next phase of the project will be to provide the Drinkable Book to people for daily use.

"Our project is to give people the filters and show them how to use them and have them use them regularly until the filters need to be replaced," Dankovich said.

Dankovich added that they will monitor the use for a couple of months and get feedback on the use of the filters to see how much of the community's health would improve.

"We're [WATERisLIFE] going to be instrumental in a worldwide distribution for them [the pAge Drinking Paper organization]," Surritte said.


Dr. Dankovich has also been working on designing the filters so they can be used in various holders such as a cone shape in India.

"We've seen people tend to prefer designs that are simple and easy to use and that can filter really fast," Dankovich said.

Surritte stated that from the field tests that there is a variety of different ways to implement the materials that are already being used and available in the country.

"[The people] would use the pages in the book [to filter the water] and whatever material is available to collect the water," Surritte said.

Some other short-term goals the team has includes expanding the use and field trials of the filter papers to more countries, adding more artwork and less text for the educational content of the Drinkable Book to reach a broader audience and translate the books into more languages.


Another goal is to scale up the production of the filter papers to paper machine manufacturing since every pAge thus far has been made by hand by Dr. Dankovich.

"Our target for the cost in the future is to be about 10 cents or less for each filter," Dankovich said.

Dankovich stated that the overall goal for the Drinkable Book is to improve health of the people in the communities and countries without clean drinking water.

"It's a big task, of course, and the ability for us to do it is also dependent on a lot of other things like sanitation needs to be improved around the world," Dankovich said.

Donations towards the Drinkable Book can be made on their fundraising campaign page.

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