Drinking water can be tested for E. coli bacteria in three hours or less with simple, inexpensive paper strips developed by researchers at Waterloo Engineering.
Sushanta Mitra, a mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor, is working with colleagues at startup Glacierclean Technologies Inc. to refine the invention and hopes to have a product costing just 50 cents a test on the market within nine months.
“This has the potential to allow routine, affordable water testing to help billions of people in the developing world avoid getting sick,” said Mitra, executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology. “It is a breakthrough.”
Current tests for E. coli, which caused a deadly outbreak in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000 when its water system got contaminated, cost about $70 and can take up to three days to get back from laboratories.