By analogy with a pregnancy test, the new technology uses only one small sample of water to determine if it is safe or not. When the test detects contamination that exceeds EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) standards, it glows green. Information about the new development is published in the journal Nature.
A new test was made under the supervision of researchers from Northwestern University. It can detect 17 different pollutants, including toxic metals such as lead and copper, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and cleaning products.
The main problem of ensuring water quality is that people cannot find out about the presence of contaminants in liquids, and sending a sample for examination can cost up to 10 thousand rubles.
The researchers used cell-free synthetic biology: they take molecular mechanisms, including DNA, RNA, and proteins, out of cells, and then reprogram this mechanism to perform new tasks. It is like you opened the hood of a car and removed the engine, which you now use for various purposes.
The platform, based on cell-free synthetic biology, is so flexible that researchers can constantly update it to identify more and more different pollutants.