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Researchers develop rapid test strips for bacterial contamination in swimming water
Date:4/30/2012

ogy similar to that found in standard desktop printers. Within 30 minutes of sampling, the paper changes colour to indicate the presence of E. coli, with colours coded to represent different forms and concentrations of the bacteria.

In the future, the test should make it possible for consumers to check their water affordably and easily, without additional equipment, scientific knowledge or long waits.

"One of the problems right now is that there is no simple, fast and cheap way to test recreational water, and certainly nothing out there in the realm of rapid tests for drinking water," Brennan says.

Field testing of the prototype strips is planned or under way in Canada and across the globe, in regions where untreated water poses particular health hazards. The results of these studies will help to refine the test strips and may lead to strips that are sensitive enough to tell whether water is safe enough to drink, says Brennan.

The standards for safe drinking water are hundreds of times tighter than those for safe swimming water. Typically, limits for safe swimming allow for a maximum of 100 to 500 cells in 100 mL of water, depending on jurisdiction. For water to be considered safe for drinking, there cannot be even one cell in 100 mL a little less than half a cup of water.

The next stage of pre-commercial development of the test strips is already funded by NSERC through a Phase I Idea to Innovation grant. Commercialization of a final product could take as little as two to three years.


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Contact: Wade Hemsworth
hemswor@mcmaster.ca
905-525-9140 x27988
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert

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