Sullied Sediments creates innovative 'dipstick'
The Sullied Sediments team has busy in the lab and we now have a 'dipstick' that can detect phosphate in the water environment. The dipstick is actually a paper analytic device, or PAD, which has been developed to record the presence of phosphate in water samples using a colorimetric reaction. Having been tried and tested in the lab, later this year we will be working with our colleagues from the NuReDrain project to deploy the PADs in the field and test their efficacy in an agricultural setting.
With the proof of principle now established, our Sullied Sediments team is looking at how the PAD can be engineered to detect triclosan - an antibacterial and antifungal agent found in some consumer products, including toothpaste, soaps, detergents and toys. Triclosan is a watch list chemical which means that it is being monitored as a substance that could have an adverse impact to the aquatic environment.
We are developing the PAD as part of our work package called 'Changing Citizens' Behaviour'. While other aspects of the Sullied Sediments project are exploring ways of better assessing and treating contamination from the watch list chemicals in our waterways, this work package is focused on better prevention. We will be mounting a public awareness raising campaign in hopes of making citizens aware that they may be inadvertently releasing unwanted substances into the water environment through their use of certain products and that a few simple changes in their consumer habits can make a big difference.
In addition, we are creating a programme of volunteer sampling workshops, which will be rolled out in the three river catchments where the Sullied Sediments project is active. In the workshops, volunteers will be trained to collect samples from their local waterways; test them using the PADs for the presence of triclosan; and interpret and register the results. At the same time, workshop leaders will be encouraging these volunteers to become water champions in their local communities.
The volunteer sampling progress will be piloted in the UK's Humber catchment this autumn. We will report on how the pilot goes later this year.