Normally, pouring water onto a book is an unfortunate accident. But with pages that can filter out bacteria, the drinkable book may solve a major public health problem for the 750 million people worldwide without access to clean drinking water. (Christian Science Monitor)
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.
- Do you think the “drinkable book” will be used for water purification in United States communities?
- Unlikely. The drinkable book is a “point-of-use” water-treatment system, meant for individual users. Water-treatment processes in the United States are much more comprehensive, costing millions of dollars in technology, engineering, and infrastructure; and serving communities of millions of people. Find information about your local drinking water here.
- According to our activity, water-treatment processes involve coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection. The drinkable book’s water-treatment process really only addresses the last two steps. How do users filter out sediments and other large clumps (part of the coagulation and sedimentation processes) that would clog the porous paper of the drinkable book?
- When water has a high amount of sediments, users may have to pre-filter the water by running it through a cloth.
- Silver nanoparticles embedded in the drinkable book act as filtration and disinfection devices. Isn’t silver expensive?
- Yes . . . but nanoparticles are very small. (Learn more about how nanoparticles are being used in medicine here.) According to the drinkable book website, “the price of an ounce (28 grams) of silver had been around $15. Our method for adding silver to these filter papers only uses milligrams of silver per filter, which costs only a few pennies.”
- What are some waterborne diseases the drinkable book can filter out?
- Does the drinkable book filter out pesticides or industrial waste?
- No. According to its website, “The filters are not intended for the remediation of organic pollutants or heavy metals, which can be found in contaminated water from industrial pollutants.”
- Why do scientists and public-health researchers think the drinkable book is among the most promising weapons to fight waterborne diseases?
- The book acts to both educate the user and purify their drinking water—each page has information about sanitation and maintaining water quality. Most filters do not contain this educational component.
- It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to produce.
- It’s portable and long-lasting. (A single book can last a user up to 4 years.)
- It’s had successful trials in South Africa, Ghana, and Bangladesh.
- In short: “[I]t’s cheap, and it’s a catchy idea that people can get hold of and understand,” says Theresa Dankovich, the chemist who invented drinkable paper.
Christian Science Monitor: ‘Drinkable book’ could give millions access to clean water
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