START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Drink From Your Book With This New Water Purifier

While over 3.4 million people die from water-borne diseases each year, the trouble is that the people who live in affected areas may have no idea that contaminated water is a problem. And even if they do, they don’t have much they can do about it (if your local drinking water supply is contaminated, it’s not likely you have access to — or could afford — clean water). So preventing deaths from diseases in local water supplies is two-fold: First, educating the local people about how to keep water clean (simultaneously letting them know their water could be dangerous) and second, finding a simple, reliable way to clean the water.

The chemistry-meets-design challenge, The Drinkable Book, solves both problems. How does it work?


No, it isn’t super-expensive; the paper costs just pennies to produce and each sheet/filter is capable of producing about 30 days of clean water, meaning each book could filter water for up to four years. And the kicker? The paper can be printed with details and information in an area’s native language, detailing how to keep existing water supplies cleaner, how to use the filters, and what diseases filtered water can prevent. So the filters act as communication devices in and of themselves.

The project came about as a collaborative effort between researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia, the water-focused charity Water is Life (they developed that water-purifying straw), and DDB. The chemist who thought the idea up, Teri Dankovich, who developed the paper during her PhD thesis at McGill University (and continued work at the University of Virginia) said of her development: “I led a team of undergraduates in field tests in South Africa of this antibacterial paper,” she wrote in an email to Slate. “All of the chemicals used [to treat the paper] have been selected because they are safe, renewable, and nontoxic.”

Getting the books printed in a cost-effective manner and distributed to the 33 countries where Water is Life does business is the next step.

Related on MNN

The Clean Water Act turns 50

Tiny “micromotors” clean polluted water


Read more: Environment, Green, Health, Technology, Videos, Videos

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Kara, selected from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network's mission is to help you improve your world. From covering the latest news on health, science, sustainable business practices and the latest trends in eco-friendly technology, strives to give you the accurate, unbiased information you need to improve your world locally, globally, and personally – all in a distinctive thoughtful, straightforward, and fun style.


+ add your own
2:10PM PDT on Sep 22, 2015

Well done to the Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia for this water purifier project! I can't imagine how many people will benefit from this, not only in Africa but hopefully around the world!

2:06AM PST on Jan 24, 2015

Along with a load of others things the United Nations does, they could also buy up a bunch of these books for impoverished health.

10:28AM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

Good idea but will it help the illiterate...

10:45PM PDT on Jul 10, 2014

Wow! Another amazing invention! Hopefully it can help a lot of people especially to those who do not have a clean water in their community!

3:04AM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

Thanks for sharing

8:11PM PDT on May 23, 2014

Thanks for the information.

6:11AM PDT on May 23, 2014

Way of saving life

12:40PM PDT on May 22, 2014

Wow it sounds amazing!

1:00AM PDT on May 22, 2014


5:59PM PDT on May 21, 2014

How Brilliant! You couldn't get much better than that!!!!!
Wonderful. Just Wonderful!!

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Yes this is a definate Daily Cute.

As a child I was taught that is was wrong to waste ANYTHING. Even if one was extremely wealthy, it …

Thanks for the very informative article.

Love the info. I adore rare & exotic plants.


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!