Environmental & Drinking Water Safety

Experts consider water-contamination related diseases to be the world’s most significant yet preventable health problem. In the developing world its effects are compounded. Water contamination stifles economic growth by preventing people from attending work or school and stresses already overloaded and constrained healthcare systems.

Cholera, a well-known disease caused by fecal contamination of food and water, is one example. With proper control measures, including the provision of sanitary conditions and safe drinking water, it is highly treatable and preventable. Despite this, there are an estimated 300,000 reported cases of cholera each year due to microbial water contamination. The World Health Organization estimates the global impact of cholera to be much higher, calculating the statistic above to be just 5 or 10 percent of the number of actual cases of cholera.

Although it is the safest in the world, even drinking water in the United States must be continually monitored. Pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and Cryptosporidium are carefully monitored by water utilities. Samples are often sent to outside laboratories for testing, which can be expensive and take up to 10 days to return definitive results. While PCR tests have decreased wait times to hours or even minutes for both bacterial and viral tests, the have limitations in expense and only provide qualitative results (yes/no). These types of results provide technicians with less information than the quantitative tests (alive/dead), such as those from NanoLogix.

Fast, reliable methods are also needed on beaches to determine the safety of recreational waters. For example, some beach monitoring for human waste uses DNA/PCR tests to give same-day results that can warn beach goers if pathogenic bacteria such as Staph or E. coli are present in the water. Unfortunately, these qualitative test results only tell beach monitors if a bacteria is present and fail to indicate its viability or threat level.

Knowing the living state of an organism as fast as possible is central to developing a clear picture of water contamination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes this and has entered in to a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with NanoLogix. The two parties are designing a rapid diagnostic method to detect pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli and Cryptosporidium in drinking and source water.

Scientists from the EPA and NanoLogix are using the company's rapid detection technology as a foundation for the new process. The goal of the collaboration is to develop a standardized method, based on NanoLogix technology that significantly reduces the wait times of current water contamination tests.