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Ingenious design

Lack of access to clean water affects 1 billion people around the world, while 3.4 million die of water-related diseases every day. The even bigger problem? Most of these people don’t even know that their water is unsafe to drink. Nonprofit organization Water Is Life has collaborated with scientists from the University of Virginia and Carnegie Mellon University to introduce “The Drinkable Book,” a truly ingenious new manual on water safety that doubles as a filtration system.

“After passing water through our filter, we found a reduction of greater than 99.9 percent in bacteria count, which is comparable to the tap water in this country,” said Dr. Theresa Dankovich, a chemist and the inventor of the paper used in the book.

The paper functions largely like a coffee filter: each page is coated in silver nanoparticles (making the paper look slightly orange) which kill bacteria that cause diseases like cholera and typhoid. Each page also contains valuable information about good hygiene practices. Each book will provide four years of clean drinking water for a community.

The books will be available in Swahili, Dagbani, Spanish, English and Kreole among several other languages, and will be distributed in early 2015 to India, Haiti, Kenya and Ghana. “We are working on developing the books in a variety of languages and a variety of teaching methods,” said Water Is Life president Kristine Bender. “We’re sharing our message through training, storytelling and discussions in communities worldwide.”

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