Books can be used for several reasons. They can be used to write in, they can be read. Some people even use them to pray. Snoop Dog once made a book which can be used to roll joints, but that Is besides the point. The point is there are several ways books can be helpful, and now there is one more.

A scientist from the United States, Teri Dankovich, has developed and tested a book with pages that can be torn out and used as a filter to turn contaminated water into drinking water.

The “drinkable book” combines treated paper with printed instruction on how and why water should be filtered.

Its pages are and treated with nano-particles of silver or copper, which kill bacteria in water thus making it drinkable. In field tests conducted in South Africa, Ghana and Bangladesh, the paper successfully removed 99 per cent of the bacteria. We are pretty pumped to read about this!

The resulting water is similar to US tap water levels, the research concludes. Tiny bits of copper and silver also seeped into the water but these were well below the safety limits.

“It’s directed towards communities in developing countries,” Dankovich said, noting that 663 million people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water. 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,” Dankovich told BBC.

According to her tests, one page can clean up to 100 litres of water. That means a book could filter one person’s water for four years.

In the field

Dankovich had already tested the product in her lab using artificially contaminated water. These trials turned out to be successful so she decided it was time for field trials. These were conducted over the last two years with the help of charities Water is Life and iDE.

These trials turned out to be extremely successful. On average the bacteria count was reduced by 99 per cent and in most cases, it dropped to zero.

“Greater than 90% of the samples had basically no viable bacteria in them, after we filtered the water through the paper,” Dankovich said.

One location in particular gave the book a tough challenge. There was a stream which was being contaminated by raw sewage on a regular basis, leading to very high levels of bacteria. However, the paper proved formidable.

“We were really impressed with the performance of the paper; it was able to kill the bacteria almost completely in those samples. And they were pretty gross to start with, so we thought — if it can do this, it can probably do a lot,” said Dankovich.

Dankovich and her students are hoping to step up production of the paper, which is currently made by hand. They are hoping to move on to trials in which local residents use the paper themselves.

We need to get it into people’s hands to see more of what the effects are going to be. There’s only so much you can do when you’re a scientist on your own.”

Despite the immense amount of work still to be done, this project is on the right tracks. It has proved to be effective and the idea itself is catchy and easy to understand — that helps a great deal in getting people to hop on board.

The video below gives you a better understanding of the science and the motive behind the life altering venture: