A new project from communications firm DDB New York and nonprofit Water is Life aims to elevate a message—water sanitation—through its medium—advanced filtration paper. The so-called Drinkable Book features pages coated with pathogen-killing silver nanoparticles, which give the paper its orange hue. The perforated paper is removable and can be inserted into a supplied plastic case that doubles as a filter. When dirty water is poured over the filter, the pages go to work, killing nearly all of the bacteria and purifying the water to a level similar to that of tap water in the United States, its makers say.

"A staggering 3.4 million people die each year from a water-related disease and, in most of the cases, the victims didn’t know the water was unsafe to drink in the first place,” said Water is Life founder Ken Surritte in press release.

The project commercializes the doctoral research of Theresa Dankovich, who earned her Ph.D. at McGill University in Montreal and is now a post-doctoral chemist at the University of Virginia. Beyond purifying water, printed in food-grade ink on each filter is educational information about sanitation and safe water consumption.

Each of the book's 24 pages contains two filters that last one month each, allowing one Drinkable Book to supply an individual with four years’ worth of clean water. By preventing the spread of illnesses such as E. coli, cholera, and typhoid, this is one book with true life-saving potential.

Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.