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Microfluidic System for Water Quality Monitoring in Resource Poor Environments

People Involved

Nicole Pamme

Project Description

The diseases resultant of microbial contamination in water is a global burden. A single yet common consequence of water borne diseases is diarrhoea which according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) afflicts mainly the poverty stricken in developing countries. In South East Asia and Africa diarrhoea, as recorded by the WHO, claims approximately "8.5% and 7.7% of lives"; many of whom are children under the age of 5. One of many significant reasons to ongoing water related diseases is the lack in availability of inexpensive, rapid yet sensitive technology to detect disease causing microbes in water. A widely used and inexpensive means to detect microbes is the method of membrane filtration to capture and culture microbes for detection. This however takes a lengthy period of time, 18-24hrs to produce a result, it requires a centralised laboratory and expensive equipment such as an incubator for culturing the microbes. Current commercial technology such as Colilert (IDEXX) makes use of chromogenic substrates to detect E.coli, and coliforms, which is an indicator organism for the presence of pathogenic microbes in water. Colilert and similar technology, although popular, are however several fold more expensive than membrane filtration and also require 18-24hrs for detection in a centralised facility. In essence, available measures for detection of microbes in water take too long and are not designed for use outside of a laboratory. This unfortunately poses a problem in poor resource countries such as Africa and Asia where water safety is severely compromised. What is needed is a rapid, cost effective yet sensitive tool that can be used outside of a laboratory to assess water quality facilitating the management of water sanitation, health and safety.

Type of Project Project
Status Project Complete
Funder(s) British Council
Value £49,995.00
Project Dates Mar 1, 2015 - Feb 28, 2017

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