HomeChemistrySensor detects toxin in drinking water

Sensor detects toxin in drinking water

Researchers from University of Cincinnati have developed a sensor to detect toxins that pollutes water surface. Early detection of these toxins will help to develop water treatment plans and the harmful toxin can be kept away from contaminating drinking water.

This research is led by environmental engineer Dionysios Dionysiou and his student Vasileia Vogiazi.

To conduct their research, the researchers created electrochemical aptamer-based sensor. This sensor detects microcystin cyanotoxin in water. Microcystins are toxic by-products of algal blooms. Algal blooms develops when fertilizer leaches into water. If this toxin gets mixed with drinking water, it will affect our liver and can cause tumour growth.

Once cyanotoxins got mixed with drinking water, it becomes difficult to remove. This has already happened in Toledo, Ohio in 2014. The authority has been forced to give a notice to its citizen to not to drink water. But this sensor will help to detect the presence of the toxin in an early stage. The researchers have planted one sensor in Lake Erie in the Toledo to test the sensor. The sensor has alerted the water managers about the presence of the toxin in the water before the citizens drink that water.

Scientists have said that normal treatment processes are not really efficient in removing cyanotoxins. The water that has got contaminated with the toxin is very hard to treat. Even after several treatments the presence of the toxin in drinking water remain noticeable.

This research paper has been published in the journal ACS ES&T Engineering.

Scientists from various discipline came together to develop this sensor. The team of the researchers included professor of chemical engineering Vesselin Shanov, associate professor of electrical engineering and chemistry Ryan White and research professor of chemistry Bill Heineman. Other researchers from Environmental Protection Agency have also contributed in this research.


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