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The Drinkable Book provides safe drinking water

The Drinkable Book is a guide to safe drinking water -- and the pages can be torn out and used as water filters.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
2 min read

Water is Life

One of the biggest problems in the developing world is access to safe, reliable drinking water. The charity organisation Water is Life dedicates its energies to providing this most basic of necessities. Its latest project -- developed in concert with creative agency DDB North America - seeks to combine education with actual resources.

Called The Drinkable Book, it combines a variety of technologies to achieve this goal. On each of its tear-out pages, water safety tips are written in various languages -- the first print run, intended for Kenya, is printed in English and Swahili -- in food-grade ink, providing much-needed information to people in areas where access to education about such matters may be low.

Each book comes packaged in a 3D printed box, which converts into a filtration tray. When you tear out one of the pages and slip it into the tray, you can use it to filter water.

Water is Life

Each page is impregnated with silver nanoparticles (which gives the paper its distinctive orange colouring). The nanoparticles don't quite work like a traditional filter. Rather than providing a barrier, they actually kill the bacteria as they pass through the paper. As the water runs through, the bacteria absorb the silver ions, which kill the bacteria. The paper kills over 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria, which puts the resulting water on a par with tap water in the US. It has proven effective at destroying bacteria that cause diseases such as cholera, E.coli and typhoid.

It's not a perfect solution -- the paper can't remove dissolved solids or chemicals from contaminated water supplies -- but it's a lot better than many people have access to.

Each page contains two filters, and each filter can be used to safely treat around 100 litres of water -- up to four years' worth, depending on usage. The team will be conducting field tests later this year, hoping to raise funds for a full print run, and aim for a commercial release in 2015.

To learn more, visit the Water is Life website.