Instantly Detecting Pathogens in Drinking Water & Alerting the Community

An innovative process to instantly detect pathogens such as E. coli in water - and to let everyone in the area know through cellphone networks - is being tested in India and northern Canada. Sushanta Mitra, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta, developed the sensor technology. The sensor is a filter that traps E. coli and changes color in the presence of the deadly bacteria. It takes anywhere from two to twenty minutes, based on the level of contamination. In India, over 37 million people are struck by diseases coming from contaminated water, and in 2005 Canada's public health agency reported more than 4,000 cases of giardiasis - a parasitic, waterborne disease that can be fatal for young children and seniors.