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Detecting viral contaminants in drinking water supplies

Narrator: This is Science Today. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has awarded scientists at the University of California, Riverside a grant to develop a fast and effective method to detect disease-causing viruses in drinking water supplies. Environmental microbiologist, Marylynn Yates says the EPA does not require that drinking water be tested for viral contamination.

Yates: Because the amount of time that it takes to get the results from that test can be several weeks. And the cost of doing one of those tests is on the order of several hundred to a thousand dollars to look for essentially for one type of virus.

Narrator: Viral contaminants, such as hepatitis A and E or rotavirus claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the developing world. Nationally, waterborne viruses sicken over 100 thousand people each year.

Yates: Our goal at the end of this project is to have a system that will enable us to detect infective particles in a very short period of time.

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