Scientists at UC Riverside in Riverside, Calif., have been awarded $600,000 from the EPA to develop a fast and inexpensive way of detecting dangerous viruses in drinking water.
Currently water is only routinely tested for E. coli bacteria, but the new method could be used by water agencies, homeland security officials and others to detect additional viruses such as hepatitis A.
The San Bernadino County Sun reported that four scientists will be spearheading the project: Wilfred Chen, Ashok Mulchandani, Nosang Myung and Marylynn V. Yates. The group has been working on the project for two years and hopes to have it completed in the next three years.
The procedure being developed would take only one or two days, as opposed to the current method, which takes a week or two. The new method would also cost considerably less.
The research could also help water agencies meet the strict requirements of the EPA’s Ground Water Rule, which will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2009. This new rule calls for public drinking water supplies to be safe from disease-causing viruses and bacteria.
According to the San Bernadino County Sun, the new process works by tagging components of the virus with fluorescent markers. The virus incorporates the tagged fragments, which can then be seen through a microscope or through sophisticated imaging equipment. If the tags are there, then the virus is also present.