Kanpur, June 20 (IANS) A novel water testing kit that is highly sensitive and can detect the presence of E.coli in drinking water has been developed by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, the institute said on Monday.
Escherichia coli or E.coli is a bacteria that normally lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals. Most types of E. coli are harmless but a few strains can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.
The kit is very easy to use, with false-positive results being rare. It is cheap, provides high accuracy, as well as has technological advantages over similar currently available kits in the market, said the researchers who validated its success in field trials conducted in Odisha.
“This E.coli water testing kit will surely be a boon when it comes to tackling water contamination and detecting the presence of E.coli. The low-cost and higher accuracy nature of the product will give it the required advantage over its peers in the market and will be a benchmark for the Make in India initiative,” said Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur, in a statement.
The test is conducted using pre-prepared vials filled with chemicals and a chemical-infused gel for 24 hours before reading.
The methodology uses a growth medium specific for E.coli. and detection of a marker enzyme produced by the E.coli. bacteria.
A visual colour change from the enzyme-substrate interaction and a simple method thereof determines the presence or absence of bacteriological contamination in drinking water.
The kit detects biomarkers secreted only by E.coli bacteria and will not change the colour in presence of other commonly found bacteria in tropical soil or water. This test, therefore, does not yield false positives depending on the type of water source and the natural presence of bacteria in tropical soil, the team explained.
The kit, thus, is expected to bring a paradigm shift in low-cost E.coli testing methodologies, most commonly carried out by H2S presence/absence tests that detect the presence of hydrogen sulphide-producing bacteria and yield false-positive results.
The test kit also comes fully compatible with a digital platform to record, interpret and report results to all users and their stakeholders using a single platform — the EarthFace Flow android app.
The app integrates the requirements of Jal Jeevan Mission for data-sharing with the NIC platforms, using a simple, intuitive design, built on state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. The data from the kits provide tamper-proof results reporting capable of delivering automated water and programme-related reports to its users.
The kit will soon be available across e-commerce platforms and GeM portal, and would cost Rs 199 for a pack of two E.coli. water testing kits and a user manual, the institute said, adding that the price is expected to come down further once it scales up.