Eco Innovator March 2012
Rapid Pesticide Detection
A screening tool developed
by an RMIT University doctoral researcher could enable the instant detection
of pesticide residues in Australia's water catchments.
Dr David Beale investigated
the development of a portable instrument for detecting the presence of
commonly used pesticides in water as part of his PhD research in RMIT's
School of Applied Sciences.
Dr David Beale.
The method can give an on-the-spot
indicative reading identifying the presence of triazines, triazinone and
selected organophosphates in water samples, with confirmation performed
by traditional analytical techniques in a laboratory.
It is sensitive enough to detect
minute traces of pesticide residues under the maximum levels set by Australian
guidelines for safe drinking water, and could be easily incorporated into
a portable field instrument, which is the basis of further research at
The method uses chemiluminescence
a highly-sensitive technique that allows the detection of minute
quantities of an organic compound.
"Typical pesticide monitoring
involves collecting samples on site then taking them back to a laboratory
for analysis, a process that can take several days," he said.
"By instantly identifying
the presence of specific pesticide residues, this new method would enable
water utilities to find out on the spot if a water catchment is contaminated.
"With future development,
I hope the tool could enable water utilities to monitor their catchments
in-situ and in real time for a variety of pesticide classes."
"I hope my work could
enable water utilities to catch any contamination earlier, as well as
boosting the amount of testing conducted within our water catchments,"
said Dr Beale, who is a research scientist at the CSIRO and has a long-standing
interest in water.
"During my honours year,
I realized the enormity of pesticide contamination in water and my attention
shifted to the investigation of pesticide residue in drinking water
a topic that I continued to research during my PhD."