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Antibacterial book made from nanoparticles of silver and copper cleans water in Third World

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(NaturalNews) They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. However, in the Third World, where clean drinking water is often hard to come by, the only way to judge a revolutionary new "drinkable book" is by the effectiveness of its cover and pages.

A nanoparticle-infused novel of sorts is the latest approach being undertaken by do-gooders throughout Africa who aim to develop a safe, simple way for the less fortunate to purify drinking water without the need for chemicals.

It's a simple process. The pages of this drinkable book are specially coated with nanoparticles of silver and copper, both of which are known antibacterials. Its developers say they can be dipped into non-potable water in order to purify it.

Trials in some 25 locations throughout Africa where water supplies are contaminated show incredible promise, with the metal-fortified pages removing some 99 percent of harmful bacteria, according to reports.

Small amounts of copper and silver leach into the water, of course. But both of these metals can be beneficial and have minimal toxicity, especially at the minute levels released. Therefore, researchers say the method can be an effective way to purify putrid water when other, more expensive alternatives are in short supply.

"It's directed towards communities in developing countries," stated Dr. Teri Dankovich, a postdoctoral researcher from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and one of the developers of the edible book, at the recent 250th national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"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 told BBC News.

Harmful bacteria absorb silver and copper ions, which end up killing them

Some 663 million people around the world currently have no access to clean water, Dr. Dankovich says. It could be many years before more advanced water purification solutions are developed in many of these areas, hence the need for a simpler approach.

With purifying silver and copper paper, she says, this widespread thirst pandemic can be minimized for pennies on the dollar thanks to the amazing cleansing power of these natural metals.

"Ions come off the surface of the nanoparticles, and those are absorbed by the microbes," she explained about how the technology works, noting that a single page of the drinkable paper is capable of purifying up to 100 liters of water. An entire book, she says, could purify a person's water supply for up to four years.

"Greater than 90 percent of the samples had basically no viable bacteria in them, after we filtered the water through the paper. 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."

In early laboratory trials, Dr. Dankovich and her team showed that the paper was effective at treating artificially contaminated water. Later, in field trials, she found that the paper worked in nearly every real-world application, reducing bacteria levels by well over 99 percent on average. In most cases, it was 100 percent effective

Even in heavily contaminated raw sewage samples, the paper was found to purify water at an exceptionally impressive rate.

"There was one site where there was literally raw sewage being dumped into the stream, which had very high levels of bacteria," she stated. "But we were really impressed with the performance of the paper; it was able to kill the bacteria almost completely in those samples."

"We need to get [this paper] into people's hand 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."

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