Researchers To Look At Molecular-Based Approach To Detecting Microbial Pathogens In Drinking Water

The University of Washington (UW) recently received nearly $600,000 from EPA to research an important new method for detecting harmful organisms in drinking water, officials announced on Sept. 12.

Under EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, the new method will provide a faster and more sensitive way to detect and measure known and emerging microbial pathogens in drinking water.

"This research is on the cutting edge of a critically important environmental and public health priority," said Ron Kreizenbeck, acting EPA Region 10 administrator. "The UW's work will help develop new and better testing methods for routine use and for investigating outbreaks of waterborne infectious diseases."

The university will work with the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute to conduct this research.

According to Dr. John Scott Meschke, the principal investigator on the project, "The proposed research will develop a novel approach for concentration, purification, and detection of pathogens in drinking water which can be applied broadly."

Current drinking water test methods in the U.S. rely on detecting "indicator" organisms such as viruses, to determine the safety of drinking water. Direct detection of all waterborne pathogens has been technologically and economically unfeasible. Several new technologies are emerging that may have the potential to directly detect a broad array of waterborne pathogens. Researchers for this project will evaluate several of these emerging technologies.

This grant is one of 10 nationwide awarded by EPA's Office of Research and Development. For more information about this grant, go to http://www.epa.gov/ncer/05drinkingwater/meschke.html.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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