Finnish researchers develop quick test kit for detecting phenolic compounds in drinking water

August 22, 2013
The test turns red to indicate that the sample contains phenol.

Clean drinking water is a diminishing natural resource in developing nations and in many industrialised countries. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a simple and inexpensive test kit that detects phenolic compounds in water. Sources of phenolic compounds found in drinking water include industrial wastewaters, drug residues and pipes. Certain phenolic compounds are toxic and some may even cause cancer.

The method developed by VTT is based on a chemical reaction. A small test stick determines whether or not a water sample contains harmful phenolic compounds. If so, the stick will change colour within a few minutes. No quick, easy and inexpensive water quality test has been available until now. VTT's test will be launched in 2 to 3 years.

High levels of phenolic compounds in water are a problem particularly in , where an inexpensive test kit has market potential not only in the industrial and agricultural sectors but in use by health inspectors, water utilities, and possibly even consumers.

Markets for water quality test kits are also increasing in the developing countries. Dwindling water resources, increasing water prices, inadequate sewer systems and between sample sites and laboratories increase the demand for simple and inexpensive test methods which can be applied on site.

Non-degradable, toxic and ecologically unsafe, phenolic compounds in industrial wastewaters are among the most harmful. Chlorophenols, for example, are carcinogenic and affect hepatic and renal function. In industrial wastewaters, the concentration of may be as high as several hundreds of milligrams per litre. The cut-off value in VTT's test is currently 0.1 mg/l, but development of test precision continues.

Phenolic compounds are used as raw material in chemical industries for producing polymers, phenolic resins, explosives, pigments and drugs. Phenols can be found in the wastewaters of and petrochemical, wood processing, plastics, rubber, textile, coating and leather industries.

VTT and the University of Helsinki have developed water quality test kits in collaboration with their industrial partners.

Explore further: New insights into how natural antioxidants fight fat

Related Stories

New insights into how natural antioxidants fight fat

November 5, 2007

Scientists in Taiwan are reporting new insights into why diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of obesity. Their study, scheduled for the Oct. 17 (current) issue of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

Brazilian wasp venom kills cancer cells by opening them up

September 1, 2015

The social wasp Polybia paulista protects itself against predators by producing venom known to contain a powerful cancer-fighting ingredient. A Biophysical Journal study published September 1 reveals exactly how the venom's ...

Naturally-occurring protein enables slower-melting ice cream

August 31, 2015

(Phys.org)—Scientists have developed a slower-melting ice cream—consider the advantages the next time a hot summer day turns your child's cone with its dream-like mound of orange, vanilla and lemon swirls with chocolate ...

Antibody-making bacteria promise drug development

August 31, 2015

Monoclonal antibodies, proteins that bind to and destroy foreign invaders in our bodies, routinely are used as therapeutic agents to fight a wide range of maladies including breast cancer, leukemia, asthma, arthritis, psoriasis, ...

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.