Usually, when officials are checking for early signs of algal blooms in lakes or rivers, they must send water samples to the laboratory. When these samples are analyzed, algae reproduction may have reached a stage that should alert the public.
Scientists led by Qingshan Wei, an assistant professor at North Carolina State University, hope to issue warnings in advance to produce the world's first portable cyanobacterial toxin detection system. The user simply places a drop of water on the chip and then inserts it into the reader device, which is then installed into the smart device.Mobile phoneon.
The chip is preloaded with single-stranded DNA (SSDNA) a dye and binds to a molecule called an aptamer. They bind to any target molecules that may be present in the sample, causing them to fluoresce. Therefore, in just five minutes, the app on the phone alerts the user to the presence and level of four common types of cyanobacterial toxins - anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin, nodularin and microcystin-LR.
“Our technology is capable of detecting these toxins in the EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency] water quality standards,” says Qingshan Wei. “However, it is important to note that our technology does not detect that these cyanobacterial toxin levels are below the World Health Organization's drinking water limits. Therefore, although this is a useful environmental monitoring tool that can be used to assess the quality of recreational water, It is also not suitable for assessing the safety of drinking water."
Researchers are working to increase the sensitivity of the system so that it can be used to determine if drinking water is safe. They also pointed out that if produced on a commercial scale, the reader device should be relatively cheap - currently at a manufacturing cost of less than $70, and each chip costs less than $1.
Scientists recently published a paper on the study in Analytical Chemistry.