Sure, a good book can forever change your perspective on life, but one book can literally save your life.
According to the World Health Organization, 3.4 million people die each year due to health issues stemming from unsanitary water. To combat this alarming trend, scientists are working to produce and distribute “drinkable books” to people living in third-world countries. But this isn’t your ordinary book: Each page can be torn out and used to turn sewage into drinkable water.
The “drinkable book” in the brainchild of Theresa Dankovich, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who was researching a simple, inexpensive way to sanitize water. She developed “pAge drinking paper,” which is a sturdy sheet of paper loaded with silver and copper nanoparticles that kill dangerous microbes living in dirty water. The nano-paper eliminates 99 percent of bacteria living in the dirtiest water, and the resulting water contains metal levels well below U.S. guidelines for safe drinking water.
Dankovich tested her filter papers on 25 different water sources in five countries with success. She unveiled the results of her project at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting this week.
Dankovich has teamed up with the nonprofit organization WATERisLIFE to mass-produce books that are filled with this specialized paper. Each “drinkable book” contains information in English and the local language about water safety, as well as filtering instructions.
A single sheet of paper can purify up to 26 gallons of water, and a single book can supply a person’s water needs for up to four years.
Now, the goal is to raise funds in order to scale up production of the books. Dankovich, to this point, has hand-produced each book in a church kitchen – it’s a long process. Dankovich has made about 50 books, which took over 60 hours for the paper treatment and drying process. WATERisLIFE is working on securing production funds to distribute the life-saving books around the world.
For the sake of clean water, we hope drinkable books become a global bestseller.