VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a fast and affordable
testing device for detecting the presence of toxic blue-green algae in water.
There is currently no fast, affordable and user-friendly way for consumers to
check water quality themselves.
The blue-green algae testing kit developed by VTT and the University of
Helsinki is like a miniature laboratory. The device is the size of a
thermometer, and it contains antibodies that react to any toxic bacteria found
in a water sample. The test reveals in minutes whether the water sample
contains toxic blue-green algae.
Thanks to the new testing device, consumers will soon be able to check
themselves whether water is safe for swimming. At the moment, information on
blue-green algal blooms in water is mostly based on visual inspections.
However, visual inspections alone are not capable of determining whether an
algal bloom is toxic. Until now, the toxicity of algae has generally had to be
tested in a laboratory. For example, only approximately half of blue-green
algal blooms in lakes are toxic and harmful to humans and animals. The new
testing kit provides a fast and reliable means of determining whether a
blue-green algal bloom is toxic.
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, favour eutrophic and warm
water. Cyanobacteria can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic
habitat - oceans, fresh water, damp soil, temporarily moistened rocks in
deserts, and even Antarctic rocks. Every year, they form extensive blooms e.g.
in the Baltic Sea and other waters. The prevalence of algae each summer
depends on factors such as weather and water nutrient levels. The first
blue-green algal blooms begin to form when the surface of sea water reaches 15
The testing kit for detecting toxic blue-green algae is in the process of
being commercialised. The kits could be on sale within 2–3 years.
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