MARCH 29 2012 02:25h
Test can reveal explosives in water
The technology could be used in a test strip to detect water contamination that can occur from TNT production, obsolete storage facilities and other sources, the American Chemical Society reported Wednesday.
Serious health problems can be caused by TNT contamination of drinking water, researchers say.
University of Connecticut researchers said there has been a longstanding need for a fast, accurate way to detect so-called nitroaromatic compounds in water, a family of compounds including 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene -- TNT -- widely used in construction, agriculture and military applications.
The technology could be used to detect potential terrorists acts, they said.
"Law enforcement or homeland security officials concerned about the presence of TNT in a harbor at docks need an answer quickly so they can take steps to protect people and property," researcher Ying Wang said. "That's not easy with traditional testing methods.
"Our new sensor promises to provide answers on-the-scene almost immediately," Wang said, explaining that it is based on a color change that occurs when a sensing molecule in the device comes in contact with an explosive.
Using the sensor, the researchers said they have been able to detect concentrations of explosives, such as TNT, of about 33 parts per trillion, equivalent to one drop in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The researchers presented their finding at the annual meeting of the ACS in San Diego.
SAN DIEGO, March 28 (UPI) -- A detector can sense small amounts of TNT and other explosives in liquids instantly with a sensitivity rivaling that of bomb-sniffing dogs, U.S. scientists say.