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Tests show new biosensor can guide environmental clean-ups
Date:5/5/2011

accurate as the more expensive, slower, and laboratory-bound machine.

A valuable field tool

Spier says "Using the biosensor allowed us to quickly survey an area of almost 22 acres around the Elizabeth River dredge, and to provide information about the size and intensity of the contaminant plume to engineers monitoring the dredging from shore. If our results had shown elevated concentrations, they could have halted dredging and put remedial actions in place."

Unger adds "measuring data in real-time also allowed us to guide the collection of large-volume water samples right from the boat. We used these samples for later analysis of specific PAH compounds in the lab. This saved time, effort, and money by keeping us from having to analyze samples that might contain PAHs at levels below our detection limit."

"Biosensors have their constraints and optimal operating conditions," says Kaattari, "but their promise far outweighs any limitations. The primary advantages of our biosensor are its sensitivity, speed, and portability. These instruments are sure to have a myriad of uses in future environmental monitoring and management."

One promising use of the biosensor is for early detection and tracking of oil spills. "If biosensors were placed near an oil facility and there was a spill, we would know immediately," says Kaattari. "And because we could see concentrations increasing or decreasing in a certain pattern, we could also monitor the dispersal over real time."


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Contact: Dr. Mike Unger
munger@vims.edu
804-684-7187
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert

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