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Substantial work ahead for water issues, say scientists at ACS' Final Report briefing
Date:1/27/2009

of planning," he said.

Risk is another factor that takes planning, said Charles Haas, Ph.D., from Drexel University, who specializes in keeping America's water supply safe from terror attacks. "We'll never be in a risk-free environment in water or in any environmental media," he said. Terrorism in general, Haas said, and terrorism in water systems especially are expected to be rare. "So protecting against a rare event is hard, and it's hard to justify on its own in terms of cost benefit assessments." Haas suggested an emphasis on approaches with dual benefits not only against terrorism but also for protection of water systems in everyday life.

For example, the use of sensors to detect potentially toxic substances in water could provide general benefits for safety. Cost-effective, low maintenance sensors are a Holy Grail, Haas said, but difficult to develop. He warned that over-sensitive sensors could be counterproductive.

"We need to guard against false alarms," Haas said, likening the situation to a smoke detector responding to a lit match. "That wouldn't be a very good detector in terms of having false alarms. No one has succeeded in developing cheap, low maintenance sensors for water contaminants that could detect low levels of substances and do so with a low probability of a false signal."


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Contact: Charmayne Marsh
c_marsh@acs.org
202-872-4445
American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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