American researchers develop ‘Drinkable Book’

The scarcity of drinkable water has been the source of political tension and conflict in many areas of the world– however, a new scientific break-through may help change things for the better.

A group of researchers from University of Virginia in the United States, headed by Dr. Theresa Dankovich, in collaboration with a non-profit organisation known as WATERisLIFE, have developed a ‘drinkable book’ that acts as a filter for contaminated water. Each page in the book consists of silver and copper nanoparticles that are able turn some of the most contaminated water samples into 99.9 percent pure drinking water. When a contaminated water sample passes through the pages of this book, the bacteria in the sample is absorbed by the silver ions and then dies off. Scientific American cites one example in which the filter pages of the book were able to treat a water sample containing approximately 200,000 colony-forming units of E coli by bringing down CFU levels to less than 10 units of CFU. This refers to an expedition in 2013 where Dankovich and her colleagues began testing their filter pages in the Limpopo province of South Africa. The sample location in question contained an urban water stream which, according to Dankovich, had raw sewage dumped in it. Upon receiving the overwhelmingly positive results thus far, Dankovich and her team have been looking to future plans concerning production and making this drinkable book more accessible to people who need it.

A 2015 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF states that, to date 6.6 billion people use an improved drinking water source. Although 2.6 billion people globally have gained access to improved sources of drinking water since 1990, there is still an estimated 663 million people worldwide who still use unimproved water sources. Nearly half of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa, while one fifth live in Southern Asia. Providing a clean and safe source of drinking water to the majority of the Sub-Saharan African population had been a unified mandate on behalf of both the WHO and UNICEF since 2000. They have, self-admittedly, fallen short of their intended objective but they have managed to provide over 40 percent of the population access to drinkable water since 1990.

Water is one of the most precious and fundamental commodities to mankind. Access to water has been, and currently is, at the heart of many conflicts. A step toward making water accessible is a step toward peace.