Aug. 9, 2002 -- Rolf Deininger, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, has developed a small tech test for E.coli in beach water that he says is comparable in price to existing test technology, according to a university spokeswoman.
The test uses submicron paramagnetic beads coated with antibodies specific to E.coli. The beads are mixed with a water sample and attach to the bacteria. They are then pulled away by a magnet and the bacteria are broken open to release adenosine triphosphate (ATP). A substance that luminesces when it interacts with E.coli's ATP is added, and the light emitted is measured to determine whether the water is safe.
Deininger has received funding from the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund and is currently looking for additional funding. He initiated work on testing drinking water for E.coli four years ago. One year ago, he began adapting the technology to testing beach water, which is complicated by the natural debris that must be filtered out. The long-term goal is a handheld device.