Water is Earth’s most precious resource for a reason – every single living thing requires it. Unfortunately for humans, certain microorganisms find refuge in the same water that we like to drink. When parasites and bacteria meet our bodies, the microorganisms usually win – especially In developing nations with limited medical services. Now, researchers may have solved the problem with something called the “Drinkable Book,” a small book made of paper water filters.
Developed by researcher Theresa Dankovich in conjunction with WATERisLIFE, the Drinkable Book sanitizes water with a novel approach. Each of the book’s 20 pages are infused with silver nanoparticles. When water flows through the filter, it reacts with the silver in a way that’s inhospitable to bacteria. The resulting water is 99.9% bacteria free, comparable to U.S. tap water.
It only takes half of a page to filter water, and each filter can last for weeks, even a month. All told, one Drinkable Book can filter enough water for one person for up to four years. In addition to simply filtering water, each page in the Drinkable Book has tips, instructions and justifications for filtering drinking water, printed in multiple languages in non-toxic ink.
“A lot of water issues aren’t just because people don’t have the right technology, but also because they aren’t informed why they need to treat water to begin with,” Dankovich told NPR. “So I really like the educational component, and it’s very nice to store it in a book.”
After early testing in South Africa, a second test in Ghana last fall proved a resounding success. Each book costs just a few dollars to make, so there’s relatively little stopping the book from reaching the people who need it most. Working with nonprofit WATERisLIFE, the Drinkable Book has since been deployed in Haiti and Kenya as well.