Environmental monitoring is often expensive, cumbersome, and time-intensive. Equipment that can run quick and easy tests for pollutants like pesticides in our food are almost nonexistent. However, researchers in Canada are working on a new biomonitoring technique using treated paper on a stick that can quickly identify trace amounts of pesticides in your chicken soup, or your first early morning cup of joe [Technology Review]. Could these dipsticks lead to DIY pollution monitoring one day? That may still be far off, but this technology could give researchers a reliable and cheap way to get a better picture of what pollutants—even at trace amounts—are in the environment, and how they interact with our bodies.
In the study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, the researchers describe a new paper-based test strip that changes color shades depending on the amount of pesticide present. In laboratory studies using food and beverage samples intentionally contaminated with common pesticides, the test strips accurately identified minute amounts of pesticides. The test strips, which produced results in less than 5 minutes, could be particularly useful in developing countries or remote areas that may lack access to expensive testing equipment and electricity, they note [R&D Magazine]. If the dipsticks pan out, restaurant customers may one day have more to complain about than a stray hair in their soup.
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