Novel testing device for detecting toxic blue-green algae

Jun 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: Space-tested fluid flow concept advances infectious disease diagnoses

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lakes react differently to warmer climate, study finds

Oct 04, 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 ...

Climate change seems unfavourable for toxic blue algae

Sep 05, 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 ...

Using ultrasound to control toxic algal blooms

Jul 07, 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.

When hungry, Gulf of Mexico algae go toxic

Mar 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 ...

Scientists battle harmful water toxins

Oct 08, 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.

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...