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Can This 'Drinkable Book' Improve Public Health?

Each sheet of water-cleansing paper can purify up to 100 liters of contaminated drinking water.
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Brian Gartside

A slurry of raw sewage festers in shallow water. In some places, the slow-moving sludge may be the only option for drinking: a recent report from the World Health Organization concluded that 663 million people worldwide are still without sanitary drinking water. What if a piece of paper could make a significant dent in this public health problem?

While earning her doctorate in chemistry at McGill in Montreal, Theresa Dankovich engineered the a system for purifying water by sifting and trapping microscopic bacteria in a filtration system made from heavy-duty paper. The sturdy pulp in The Drinkable Book is laced with silver and copper nanoparticles that are deadly to microbes such as E. coli. (Those particles imbue the pages with an ochre tinge.)