Instrument may enable mail-in testing to detect heavy metals in water

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 - 11:40 in Earth & Climate

Lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals are increasingly present in water systems around the world due to human activities, such as pesticide use and, more recently, the inadequate disposal of electronic waste. Chronic exposure to even trace levels of these contaminants, at concentrations of parts per billion, can cause debilitating health conditions in pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable populations. Monitoring water for heavy metals is a formidable task, however, particularly for resource-constrained regions where workers must collect many liters of water and chemically preserve samples before transporting them to distant laboratories for analysis. To simplify the monitoring process, MIT researchers have developed an approach called SEPSTAT, for solid-phase extraction, preservation, storage, transportation, and analysis of trace contaminants. The method is based on a small, user-friendly device the team developed, which absorbs trace contaminants in water and preserves them in a dry state so the samples can be easily dropped in the...

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