Grab a glass and turn on a faucet for a nice drink of refreshing water. Turn the handle and water sprays out of a shower head. Open a pack of prewashed salad and serve it for dinner. In the U.S. we take for granted the cleanliness and safety of our water. Yet every year people become ill in restaurants, cruise ships, lakes, and swimming pools from E. coli and other bacteria that can contaminate water.
Most cities and states have strict guidelines for monitoring and treating water, allowing us freedom from concerns about water safety. There are even ISO  standards in place to guide monitoring. However, many monitoring approaches use cultivation-dependent processes, which take time and thus create an opportunity for E. coli and other bacteria to develop. When we see news about E. coli outbreaks, such as the recent news from some cruise ships, it is not an indication that the water wasn’t monitored but rather that the methods were too slow to detect contamination in time to prevent an outbreak of infection.
There is a new way to cut monitoring time to achieve rapid detection analysis for food, beverages, and drinking water by utilizing a qCell T Quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensor. A Swiss study demonstrated real-time evaluation of E. coli in drinking water by simply flowing water over the QCM sensor. The sensor has a special coating that allows us to see a response when E. coli is present in water.
This simple instrument, smaller than a basketball, could revolutionize the water monitoring process and provide real-time measurements with the potential of stopping outbreaks before they occur.
Perhaps the Olympic committee would be interested in testing the water for the swim events in Rio prior to each event. With surface analysis in real-time, user-friendly sensor instruments can deliver results in less than an hour.
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To learn more about the qCell T instrument, QCM, or other applications, contact Micro Photonics by visiting our website at www.microphotonics.com or call: 610-366-7103.
 http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_ics_browse?ICS1=07&ICS2=100&ICS3=30&07.100.30 “food microbiology”
Acknowledgements: Jiang, X et al. (2011) Evaluation of different micro/nanobeads used as amplifiers in QCM immunosensor for more sensitive detection of E. Coli O157:H7. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 29: 23-28.
Analyses were performed in Lars Fieseler’s Laboratories at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Switzerland.