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Surprising Science

The Incredible Book That Educates And Provides Safe Drinking Water

3.4 million people die each year from water-related diseases 99% of which occur in the developing world. To put things in more perspective, lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.1 There could hardly be anything more heartbreaking than watching a child complete his bucket list at four, because there is a 25% chance that he won’t survive to turn five. 

Surprisingly, even a bigger problem than the lack of access to drinking water is the fact that most of the affected people, don’t even know that water is unsafe for drinking. A solution, therefore, must not only provide safe drinking water, but also educate on what makes water safe or unsafe.

The Drinkable Book is an incredibly creative solution to both of these problems. It is a result of the collaboration between scientists from Carnegie Mellon and University of Virginia, the nonprofit WATERisLIFE, and the advertising agency DDB North America.

The book is a beautiful manual that provides information on water contaminants and teaches safe water habits. Each page, originally developed by chemist Theresa Dankovich, is about a millimeter thick and contains silver nanoparticles that kill 99.9% of bacteria found in water that can cause diseases such as cholera and typhoid. The book’s 3D printed cover doubles as a container for purifying the water. A filter made of half a page of the book can purify water for more than a month.

The revolutionary filter paper costs just pennies to produce and could spark even more innovation in water filtration. Theresa has successfully crowdfunded the production of 1000 copies of The Drinkable Book and is currently testing them in Ghana, Haiti, Kenya and India, hoping to soon go in production on a larger scale. 



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