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This “Drinkable Book” Filters Water for Four Years. Wait, What?

If you think books are old tech, you may be dismissing them too soon. The latest application for the folio design is a collection of water filters that are long-lasting and also provide information about consuming unsafe water. The humanitarian group WaterisLife and the ad agency DDB have teamed up to bring these books to developing countries with unreliable water sources.

Millions of people around the world don't have access to clean water for basic needs like drinking, cooking, and bathing. And 3.4 million people die every year from waterborne diseases. WaterisLife points out that though options are limited in these settings, many people who ingest unsafe water don't even know that it could hurt them. So the goal of the “Drinkable Book” is to provide cheap and effective water filters while also educating people about how dangerous contaminated water can be.

Working with researchers at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia, WaterisLife and DDB supported scalability work and design based on research conducted by Teri Dankovich for her Ph.D. at McGill University. Dankovich found a way to coat cardstock with silver nanoparticles that attract bacteria and toxins when water trickles by. Dankovich says her research indicates that the filters leave water more than 99.9 percent pure. Each page of the book can filter about 30 days’ worth of clean drinking water, and the whole book can last about four years.

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