A dual-purpose book filters bacteria from water

Published:  May 16, 2014

In some remote parts of the world, it is reported that 3.4 million people die every year due to water-related illnesses — completely preventable deaths. The quest to install safe water facilities in these areas are costly and underfunded, and the education of the dangers of local drinking water is lacking.

Ad agency DDB have teamed up with WATERisLIFE charity and McGill University & University of Virginia chemist, Dr. Theresa Dankovichnot, to turn her paper invention into a tool to both educate and make dirty water safe. Together, their Drinkable Book works as a dual-purpose manual, with each page providing water safety tips (in English and Swahili) printed in silver nanoparticles that, when in contact with water, kill diseases like cholera, E. coli and typhoid, filtering out 99.99% of the bacteria.

A page is torn out along the perforation and easily slides into the filter that is the 3D printed case (i.e., the book’s packaging). Contaminated water is poured through and the result is drinkable water. “Each book contains 24 usable pages, each of which contains two filters which each last 30 days,” explain DDB. “In total, the book can provide a single person with clean water for up to four years.”

The Drinkable Book’s filter paper will revolutionise water purification,” explains CCO of DDB New York, Matt Eastwood. “It costs only pennies to produce, making it by far the cheapest option on the market.”

This life-saving piece of design thinking is an excellent example of how clever design can function around chronic lack of funding and logistical or environmental issues, and that a simple idea can have a huge impact — and if you can bypass the cynicism of advertising, you will be relieved to hear this is more than a clever piece of charitable self-promotion — WATERisLIFE will be distributing The Drinkable Book soon to villages in need as part of an integrated water, sanitation and hygiene program.


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