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A Real-Time Pollution Warning System for the Coastal Ocean

Narrator: This is Science Today. Imagine a real-time pollution warning system for the coastal ocean? Such a breakthrough could help public health officials know immediately when pollution moves into the surf zone, where it can put bathers at risk of gastrointestinal disease, as well as eye and ear infections.

Grant: Ideally, we'd have these sensors detecting pathogens, for example. So, there's Hepatitis A in the water and the detection would say - there's Hepatitis A in the water and we'd all run out of the water. But unfortunately, that's still science fiction.

Narrator: But scientists may be getting closer to such a scenario. Stanley Grant, a professor of chemical engineering and material sciences at the University of California, Irvine, discovered that changes in temperature and salinity collected by current sensor data along the coastal ocean correlates with changes in water quality as soon as they occur.

Grant: And so part of the whole issue of translating that in-situ sensor data into something that's useful to the public really boils down to trying to understand what the connection is between measurements of salinity and temperature and say, pathogens.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.