A University of Surrey spin-out company, Cybersense Biosystems Ltd, has developed a portable toxicity screening device. The ROTAS system can be literally wheeled on to a brown field site and carry out field-based screening of contaminated soils and waters and results can be read within minutes. It is especially relevant with the Government’s vision to see more contaminated industrial land made safe for housing.
“The key benefit of ROTAS is its ability to dramatically reduce the cost of site remediation by providing reliable data on site quickly enough that it can be used to influence the management of the project.” says the inventor Dr Tim Hart, Cybersense. Using marine bacteria that naturally emit light (bioluminesce) the Rapid On-Site Toxicity Audit System (ROTAS) is an environmentally sustainable method of analysing toxicity when compared to classic tests on higher organisms. When in a state of metabolic health the bacteria glow more but in the presence of increasing toxicity they glow less. (photo attached) This powerful new tool based on a well recognised technology allows more rapid, cost-effective and accurate site characterisation and monitoring work. It has been designed to complement, not to replace chemical analysis.
The information provided by ROTAS is much more powerful than can be obtained by chemical analysis alone and results from its use provide information on the biological effects of contaminants, no matter how complex and ill-defined the pollution is, or what synergistic interactions take place between toxins. The ROTAS system has been specially designed for the analysis of soil samples and is capable of sampling soil in the field in minutes in a very simple to use, disposable piece of kit.
Liz Morgan-Lewis | alfa
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