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Fish Protect Drinking Water from Terrorists in Major U.S. Cities

August 22, 2006

IAC's aquatic biomonitoring technology provides an immediate assessment of water toxicity.


POWAY, CA /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- Intelligent Automation Corp. (IAC) announced that two large metropolitan cities are using a groundbreaking system to protect public drinking water from contamination and potential terrorism incidents involving the intentional release of chemicals into drinking water supplies. New York and San Francisco have purchased the IAC 1090 Intelligent Aquatic BioMonitoring System (iABS), an automated, intelligent system that uses fish (bluegills) as biosensors to continuously monitor the water supply and rapidly identify toxic conditions caused by a wide range of chemicals or chemical mixtures. IAC's 1090 iABS is also being used by the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick, MD.

The IAC 1090 monitors fish behavior and water quality parameters to determine toxic conditions. As the fish swim, breath and cough (yes, fish cough!) their movements are detected by noncontact sensors mounted in the IAC 1090 aquarium. These movements or ventilatory parameters (ventilation rate, average depth, cough rate, and percentage of motion) along with water quality parameters are classified to provide an immediate assessment of water toxicity. Should the fish detect toxic conditions, an alarm is triggered, and the IAC 1090 is prompted to immediately take a series of water samples. In addition, the system automatically notifies appropriate staff by phone or email, allowing authorities to conduct a detailed investigation, if desired. In some cases, the system is configured to shut off the water pending a determination of whether further action is needed. The system can operate in a networked or standalone configuration and is designed for remote monitoring (e.g., modem, Internet).

Unlike man-made sensors, fish respond to a wide range of chemicals and provide rapid, reliable detection of developing toxic water conditions for several groups of toxic materials, such as metals, cyanide, organic solvents, and pesticides. No instrument has yet been devised that can measure toxicity. Chemical concentrations can be measured with an instrument, but only biosensors (fish) can be used to measure toxicity that is potentially harmful to humans.

IAC's 1090 iABS was developed in public-private partnership with the U.S. Army. Considered innovative by many in water security, the concept behind aquatic biomonitoring is actually a considerably mature technology. Over the past 30 years, scientists, and particularly the U.S. Army, have extensively studied, tested, and deployed aquatic organisms as biological early warning indicators for monitoring water supplies. In partnership with the U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research (USACEHR), IAC worked with the original concept, applying state of the art automation and information management technologies to create a technologically advanced, reliable, automated system. IAC's system includes software using a sophisticated neural-network reasoning system that provides an automated assessment of water quality. The system is low maintenance, compact, and portable.

According to IAC chief executive officer Jeff Goodrich, the need to monitor and ensure safe drinking water from acts of terrorism has increased since 9/11. This system, he notes, is making a difference. "Nature has provided us with an extremely powerful, reliable, and accurate early warning capability unmatched in any known manmade sensor. The IAC 1090 is capable of protecting against both the common accident, such as agrochemical or fuel spills, as well as intentional acts of contamination that threaten our water supply. This exciting technology provides water system managers with an accurate early warning to potential problems, allowing for an early and effective response."

Goodrich said the system has yielded zero false positives and has received unanimous positive feedback. IAC's chief executive said, "IAC's partnership with the U.S. Army in developing this technology is a classic example of a public-private sector partnership working at its very best. It means that your family and my family and millions of Americans can continue turning on their faucets and feel confident that the water they use will be safe," explained Goodrich. Laboratory and field evaluations were also supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense Legacy Program, and USACEHR.

About Intelligent Automation Corp. (IAC)
Located in Poway, CA, a suburb of San Diego, Intelligent Automation Corp. (IAC) is a machinery diagnostics company with a unique blend of research, systems engineering, manufacturing, and field support expertise. Our products and technology add value for our customers by applying easy-to-understand advanced technology solutions to complex problems that increase machinery availability, reduce operating costs, and improve safety. More information is available on the company's Web site.


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