New DNA tests could speed up beach water quality tests

By on May 1, 2013
A Lake Michigan beach in Chicago (Credit: Chris Hamby, via Flickr)

New tests are on the horizon to make sure that beach water quality around the country is safe, according to Environmental Health News.

Most swimming areas are already tested routinely to check the concentration of harmful bacteria such as e. coli and other waterborne pathogens. However, traditional tests take at least 24 to 48 hours to complete. This lag can lead to health issues as close to half of all beaches in the US exceeded levels considered safe in 2011 and about 3.5 million people got sick after swimming.

The EPA is testing the accuracy of new DNA-based tests to decrease the time it takes to assess water quality. The new method is more expensive, but the hope is that with increased use prices will come down.

Image: A Lake Michigan beach in Chicago (Credit: Chris Hamby, via Flickr)

About Kevin Rose

Kevin spent five years earning his PhD studying aquatic ecosystems and now works at the interface of science, policy, and education. When not working, Kevin enjoys anything that gets him outdoors.

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