A book with pages that can be used to filter murky drinking water has seen success in its first field trials.
The so-called “drinkable book” features treated paper which can be torn out and used to kill bacteria in water, as well as printed information on the importance of filtering drinking water.
The pages contain nano-particles of silver or copper which wipe out dangerous bacteria as they pass through the water.
The book could be a revolutionary solution for the estimated 663 million people across the world who are without access to clean drinking water.
Trials at contaminated water sources in South Africa, Ghana and Bangladesh saw the paper kill off more than 99% of all bacteria – which is the same level of contamination as water sources in the United States.
In previous trials on artificially contaminated water, bacteria levels dropped to zero.
Not even raw sewage can withstand the book’s bug-killing properties, with the bacteria being wiped out “almost completely” according to its US-based researchers.
Though tiny amounts of the copper and silver “leeched” into the water, these amounts are said to be well within safety limits.
The bacteria-killing book was developed by Dr Teri Dankovich at Carnegie wwwMellon University in Pittsburgh over several years.
“It’s directed towards communities in developing countries,” Dr Dankovich told BBC News. “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.”
She said just one page from the book could clean up to 100 litres of water, with an entire book providing one person with enough clean water for four years.
Dr Dankovich added: “It’s really exciting to see that not only can this paper work in lab models, but it also has shown success with real water sources that people are using.”
She said she hopes to increase production rates of the book, which are currently made by hand, and move on to trials where local residents use the books themselves.