The Drinkable Book is unlike any other book. If it were to become a bestseller, it would save millions of lives.
At first glance, the Drinkable Book looks like a guide to the dangers of unsafe drinking water, complete with hygiene tips like not throwing garbage anywhere near water points. But it is more than that - this book is printed on very special paper.
The thick, orange paper contains silver nanoparticles whose ions will destroy bacteria - responsible for diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid - in unsafe drinking water.
The chemist Theresa Dankovich developed this method of filtering water at McGill University a few years ago. After seeing a video of Theresa on Youtube, Brian Gartside, a 26 year old designer who works with the NGO Water is Life, came up with the idea of making the Drinkable Book. It was designed to be dual purpose - an educational tool as well as a filtering device.
The paper developed by Theresa decreases the number of bacteria in the water by 99.9%, resulting in water quality comparable to that of tap water in developed countries. The book comes with a very easy to use kit. Each filter can be reused for thirty days. In total, the Drinkable Book can purify enough water for one person for four years.
Contrary to what you may think, on a large scale the cost of manufacturing the filter paper is quite low (a few cents per page). The first edition of the Drinkable Book in English and Swahili is already being tested in Kenya. The book by Brian Gartside and Theresa Dankovich will be more widely distributed in Africa, India and Haiti in 2015.
And that’s very good news for the millions of people in the world who lack access to safe drinking water. Each year, 3.4 million people die from diseases caused by unsafe water. According to the organization Water is Life, most people who drink unsafe water are completely unaware it could be fatal - hence the crucial importance of the preventive role of the Drinkable Book.