Novel testing device for detecting toxic blue-green algae

June 24, 2013

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a fast and affordable testing device for detecting the presence of toxic blue-green algae in water. There is currently no fast, affordable and user-friendly way for consumers to check water quality themselves.

The blue-green algae testing kit developed by VTT and the University of Helsinki is like a miniature laboratory. The device is the size of a thermometer, and it contains antibodies that react to any toxic bacteria found in a water sample. The test reveals in minutes whether the water sample contains toxic blue-green algae.

Thanks to the new testing device, consumers will soon be able to check themselves whether water is safe for swimming. At the moment, information on blue-green in water is mostly based on visual inspections. However, visual inspections alone are not capable of determining whether an algal bloom is toxic. Until now, the toxicity of algae has generally had to be tested in a laboratory. For example, only approximately half of blue-green algal blooms in lakes are toxic and harmful to humans and animals. The new testing kit provides a fast and reliable means of determining whether a blue-green algal bloom is toxic.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, favour eutrophic and warm water. Cyanobacteria can be found in almost every terrestrial and - oceans, fresh water, damp soil, temporarily moistened rocks in deserts, and even Antarctic rocks. Every year, they form extensive blooms e.g. in the and other waters. The prevalence of algae each summer depends on factors such as weather and water . The first blue-green algal blooms begin to form when the surface of reaches 15 degrees.

The testing kit for detecting toxic blue-green algae is in the process of being commercialised. The kits could be on sale within 2–3 years.

Explore further: Using ultrasound to control toxic algal blooms

Related Stories

Using ultrasound to control toxic algal blooms

July 7, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of Adelaide researchers are investigating the use of ultrasound as an environmentally friendly and cheaper alternative to controlling blue-green algae in our fresh water supplies.

Climate change seems unfavourable for toxic blue algae

September 5, 2011

The earth is warming up due to rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. NWO-funded researchers have discovered that the increase in carbon dioxide can reduce the nuisance caused by toxic blue algae, a bacterium ...

Lakes react differently to warmer climate, study finds

October 4, 2012

A future warmer climate will produce different effects in different lakes. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have now been able to explain that the effects of climate change depend on what organisms are dominant ...

Scientists battle harmful water toxins

October 8, 2012

University of Ulster scientists are collaborating with international research partners to develop a new 'clean' technology to destroy water toxins caused by harmful algal blooms.

When hungry, Gulf of Mexico algae go toxic

March 12, 2013

When Gulf of Mexico algae don't get enough nutrients, they focus their remaining energy on becoming more and more poisonous to ensure their survival, according to a new study by scientists from North Carolina State University ...

Recommended for you

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

July 29, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a yarn from ordinary gelatine that has good qualities similar to those of merino wool fibers. Now they are working on making the yarn even more water resistant.

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.