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A Pill Will Be Enough For Testing Water Safety [Video]

Update Date: Apr 29, 2014 09:34 AM EDT
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A group of researchers have reportedly solved the problem of cumbersome, expensive and painfully slow water-testing by wrapping the entire setup into a tiny pill. Researchers reduced the sophisticated chemistry into a size of pill by adapting the technology found in dissolving breath strip.

For knowing if water is contaminated, all you need to do is drop the pill and shake it vigorously and if the color changes, there's the answer.

Instead of shipping water to the lab, they have created a way to take the lab to the water, putting potentially life-saving technology into the hands of everyday people, the press release read.

"We got the inspiration from the supermarket," said Carlos Filipe, a professor of chemical engineering who worked on the project, in the press release.

Researchers believe the development has the potential to dramatically boost access to quick and affordable testing around the world.

"This is regular chemistry that we know works but is now in pill form," said John Brennan, director of McMaster's Biointerfaces Institute, where the work took place, in a press release. "The user can be anybody in a village somewhere who can take a pill out of a bottle and drop it in water."

Researchers said the method also holds promise for other applications such as packaging that could change color if the food is spoiled.

"Can you modify packaging so it has a sensor to tell you if your chicken has gone off?" Brennan added. "The reason that doesn't exist today is because there's no way you can keep these agents stable enough."

The newly discovered technology can be easily scaled up and will eventually find its way to market quickly, said researchers.

The new method is described in an article published online in the Angewandte Chemie.

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