Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf laboratory (HZDR) have developed a simple color sensor which detects the presence of dangerous, polluting waste medicines in water.
Pharmaceuticals commonly found in the environment are often discarded by people by flushing them down the toilet, even though this runs against advice on the medicine container. Such medicines are affecting the water quality of rivers and streams, and are also impacting upon aquatic life. Digital Journal reported earlier this year that a new study has looked at the effects of pharmaceutical by-products that enter the water supply and how some by-products can affect the behavior of fish, putting them at risk.
As more and more sophisticated pharmaceutical products are used the risk of chemicals remaining in the water supply becomes higher (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
To help analyze the risk of medicines and to detect the presence of discarded pharmaceuticals more accurately, a team of scientiests has developed a new method which works on simple color principles: If the analyzed sample shines red, then the water is 'clean;' if its color turns green, however, then it contains the substances the scientists wish to detect. The sensor principle is based on a red and a green fluorescent dye.
The color molecules are located on a nanostructured surface consisting of bacterial proteins.
The new method has been described in a science paper published in the journal Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical.