An E. coli detection kit that allows users to detect the deadly disease quickly while at the water source, rather than in a laboratory, has been developed by Canadian scientists. Jim Drury reports.
This new E. coli detection kit promises to slash the time taken to spot the deadly bacteria in drinking water. A team from Toronto's York University has created a hydrogel matrix which is inserted into water samples. The gel changes colour within an hour of contact with infected water. Test results can be instantly broadcast to local people by a mobile app, telling them if water is safe to drink. The team's start-up company Glacierclean has teste d the Mobile Water Kit successfully in the slums of Delhi. NGOs plan to distribute it in the developing world. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR SUSHANTA MITRA, DIRECTOR FOR MICRO AND NANOSCALE TRANSPORT LAB, SAYING: "You don't need any trained person to do this. You can do the water testing right at the source, so there is no worry about transporting the samples....What we realise is the uptake of the technology is what really matters so how user friendly is our mobile water kit. That is what we want to improve through these various field trials and we believe we are on the right track, so that in a year's time Glacierclean Technologies will have mobile water kit in the shelves of the supermarket." A second, smaller and simpler, prototype will be tested soon. The team has also developed DipTreat, a simple filter paper treatment for contaminated water. The World Health Organization says more than 800,000 people die annually from preventable intestinal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. Glacierclean is one of a number of companies aiming to tackle this scourge of the developing world.