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Rapid test strips detect swimming water contamination


Homeland Security News Wire
05/01/2012

Water-testing technology has never been fast enough to keep up with changing conditions, nor accessible enough to check all waters; researchers have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in water within minutes; the new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety

Urban beach closures due to coliform outbreaks have become disturbing signs of summer, yet water-testing technology has never been fast enough to keep up with changing conditions, nor accessible enough to check all waters.

Now, researchers at McMaster University have developed a rapid testing method using a simple paper strip that can detect E. coli in recreational water within minutes. The new tool can close the gap between outbreak and detection, improving public safety.

A McMaster University release reports that the new strips are coated with chemicals that react to the bacteria, and are printed using inkjet technology similar to that found in standard desktop printers. Within thirty minutes of sampling, the paper changes color to indicate the presence of E. coli, with colors coded to represent different forms and concentrations of the bacteria.

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