University of Michigan engineers have developed a biosensor that can quickly detect microcystin-LR (MC-LR) in drinking water, according to a press release. The new technology consists of an inexpensive strip of paper infused with nanotubes. The paper strip is less expensive and performs much faster than the most common method used to find MC-LR, the release stated. Commonly found in nutrient-rich water, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, produce MC-LR, which has been shown to cause liver damage even in small quantities, according to the release. Before the nanotubes are implanted in the paper, they are mixed with MC-LR antibodies. The sensor detects changes in the electroconductivity of the nanotubes when the antibodies bond with MC-LR, the release stated. As reported in Water Technology Online, according to the researchers, the technology easily could be adapted to other toxins simply by replacing the antibodies.

There continues to be concerns about natural and manmade threats to America’s water supplies. While government and utility officials have concentrated on better protection of electric, gas and communications utilities, water services – often locally owned and operated – may not receive as much attention. What do you think? Tweet Security Magazine at