Who Needs Bottled Water When You Have a Drinkable Book?

The volume’s filtering pages could keep millions from dying of waterborne diseases.
May 9, 2014·
Kristina Bravo is Assistant Editor at TakePart.

In the age of e-readers, print books have a certain old-time charm, but there’s more to this tome than meets the eye. The souped-up hardback holds the latest in a lifesaving technology that could help millions of people around the world—and you don’t have to press a single button.

WaterisLife teamed up with scientists and engineers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia to produce the Drinkable Book, a tome that has a water filter for pages. The card stock, which is coated with silver nanoparticles, works like a “scientific coffee filter.” It reduces bacteria by 99.9 percent, a level comparable to tap water in the United States. This new application can be of especial aid in developing countries, where more than 3 million people die every year from waterborne diseases such as cholera, E. coli, and typhoid.

But a book wouldn’t be a book if it didn’t impart some wisdom. According to WaterisLife, teaching proper hygiene is just as critical as distributing clean water. So each page not only filters enough water for 30 days but also relays information about safe drinking practices through text printed with food-grade ink.

The first run, printed in English and Swahili, will make its way to Kenya. WaterisLife plans to expand distribution to 33 countries and to work out production so that each page will cost pennies to make. Sustainable and toxin-free, an entire book can produce four years’ worth of safe drinking water.