An Ames-based company is marketing a water testing system that’s designed to detect bio-terrorist attacks with a variety of poisons and pathogens. Dan Kroll is senior scientist at the Hach Company which has developed a package of “smart” detection devices built into a system that tests water for the typical things like P-H and chlorine content.The signals are run through an “intelligent” computer system that can tell if there have been any dramatic changes in water quality in the distribution system. Kroll says the software also goes and searches digital libraries to try and determine what caused the change. It’s not for homeowners. The product is designed for municipal water works. Kroll says he’s tested the system with more than 80 “threat agents” so far, and the poison was detected every time. Kroll says the system has been tested on a variety of different possibilities that could be put in the water and they haven’t found anything yet that it missed, at least in levels that would make people immediately sick. He says the system was developed with thwarting bioterrorists as its primary purpose, but it will also be an aid in typical water quality testing.It’s geared toward anti-terrorism but it has day-to-day quality control aspects — testing for everything from chlorine levels and for things like gasoline, in case there’s a leak somewhere. It should be able to recognize that sort of event too and allow for a faster response than with traditional means. Hach is the world’s largest water and wastewater instrumentation manufacturer. For more information visit “www.hach.com”.
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