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Introducing the drinkable book

World Health Organisation figures put the number of deaths from poor water sanitation each year at more than 3.4m, an issue that researcher Theresa Dankovich, with help from designer Brian Gartside and charity Water is Life, is trying to tackle with a little help from the printed word.

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About 60 drinkable books have been produced so far

Together they have developed ‘the drinkable book’, which not only includes important information about proper hygiene and sanitation practices, it is also printed on technologically advanced filter paper coated with bacteria-killing silver nanoparticles and printed with a special type of ink that has the ability to filter unclean water so it is safe to drink.

Each page contains water sanitation advice in the local language of the country, with books so far being printed in Swahili, English, Dagboni, and Haitian Creole. Users just rip one of the pages in half and insert into the 3D printed packaging which acts as a filter box, then pour water through to filter it.

The most rewarding moment was definitely getting the opportunity to deliver clean water to people in Africa

Dankovich states: The biggest scientific challenges were the chemical treatment of the paper and proving that it could kill bacteria in laboratory tests. The most exciting breakthrough happened during the first time we tested the paper filters in the field in South Africa, where the filters eliminated bacteria in contaminated streams.”

The paper was specially selected by Dankovich as it is extra strong when wet and difficult to tear. Each filter costs only a few pence to produce and can clean about 100 litres of water, meaning just one drinkable book can provide clean water for up to four years.

Dankovich concludes: “The most rewarding moment was definitely getting the opportunity to deliver clean water to people in Africa.”

The Drinkable Book

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