Strips to test contaminated water

Students of science are acquainted with litmus paper which is used to test whether a given solution is acidic or alkaline. How good it would be if a strip of paper can be used to check whether pesticides, heavy metals or toxic bacteria are present in water?

Such strips of paper are being developed at McMaster University in Canada and are called as bio-active paper strips. A pilot study will be conducted at the National Institute of Engineering (NIE) here to test the efficiency of the strips in Indian conditions.

Kanchana M S, a research associate from NIE, who is pursuing her Masters at McMaster University, is currently involved in validation study of bio-sensor strips to detect pesticides in water samples in Mysore district.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, she said such bio-active strips have also been designed to detect heavy metals and harmful bacteria in drinking water sources. “As contamination of water is high in third world countries, it can be used to monitor water quality without the need for sophisticated laboratory facilities,” she said.

The device does not require technically trained individuals to test water. Water samples are analysed with the bioactive strip. If pesticides are present, the strip changes colour signalling the presence of harmful chemicals.

Shamsundar, director of NIE-Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology, said they would receive the first batch of strips soon. The experiment on the strips’ ability to detect pesticides in Indian temperature conditions will be done in two phases.

“We will use the strips to detect pesticide content in water near agricultural lands, which will be validated by conducting laboratory experiments on similar samples of water.

Once validation is done and the functioning of the strips is affirmed, we will take up a few villages in the district, to verify the efficiency of the strips,” he said.

NIE will start generating bio-strips within the next six months, he added.

Liked the story?

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0