Researchers at the Australian Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre (EBCRC) are developing a system that they claim will be able to detect the presence of pathogenic organisms in water in minutes.
The system will significantly improve water safety and reduce health risk from use of contaminated drinking water in areas affected by major catastrophes and in the developing world.
Based on proprietary nanoparticle technology, it will perform both sample preparation and analysis and will be able to detect a range of organisms – common water-borne contaminants such as faecal coliforms, E. coli, Legionella, Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
Currently, methods used to identify waterborne microbes are either sensitive but slow (requiring up to three days for a result), or relatively fast but insensitive when used with dilute samples.
‘By providing robust, highly specific results in the field, the system will enhance the early detection and management of disease outbreaks and contamination,’ said Dr David Garman, EBCRC executive director.