Patrolling for Pollutants

An article in Food Production Daily Europe reports that Raj Mutharasan of Drexel University has developed an inexpensive detector that "will be as easy to use as a thermometer, giving a result in 10 minutes." The device works by detecting how the mass of a few E. coli cells changes the vibration of a micro glass cantilever.

Also in the realm of environmental monitoring for human health, laser specialist Picarro Inc. has won a Phase I SBIR contract from the EPA to develop instrumentation for source and ambient detection of acrolein. Acrolein is a highly toxic, ubiquitous pollutant used chemically as an herbicide and is released into the atmo-sphere during combustion processes (in forest fires, waste incinerators, furnaces, engine emissions, power plants, cooking, etc.). The instrument will be based on Picarro's patented cavity ring-down spectroscopy. (www.picarro.com)