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The Periscope

Curing Ignorance Through the Lens

Another Reason Not to Judge a Book by its Cover


The 20 pages in The Drinkable Book could save many lives.

Chemist Theresa Dankovich wanted to tackle a global problem from which 3.4 million people die annually – lack of clean water. Since 2008 she has been experimenting with a special type of paper which has silver nanoparticles in it. The paper is formulated to act similarly to a filter and 99.9 percent of bacteria is killed (making it comparable to tap water in the U.S.). 

In a collaboration between Dankovich, Brian Gartside, a designer, and the organization WATERisLIFE, The Drinkable Book was developed. The book consists of 20 filter pages which are a millimeter thick and can last up to a month. The paper can be produced for about 10 cents a page. Each leaf also has information on clean water and sanitation tips. The text is printed with nontoxic ink and will be in different languages depending on where the books are distributed. The cover of the book serves as the filter box. Dankovich commented, “Our main goal is to reduce the spread of diarrheal diseases, which result from drinking water that's been contaminated with things like E. coli and cholera and typhoid. And we think we can help prevent some of these illnesses from even happening."

So far the paper has been tested in South Africa and Dankovich hopes that it can be commercially available by next year.

Photo by zaveqna, licensed under Creative Commons.