Over the past several years many advances have been made to monitor potable water systems for toxic threats. However,
the need for real-time, on-line systems to detect the malicious introduction of deadly pathogens still exists. Municipal
water distribution systems, government facilities and buildings, and high profile public events remain vulnerable to
terrorist-related biological contamination. After years of research and development, an instrument using multi-angle light
scattering (MALS) technology has been introduced to achieve on-line, real-time detection and classification of a
waterborne pathogen event.
The MALS system utilizes a continuous slip stream of water passing through a flow cell in the instrument. A laser beam,
focused perpendicular to the water flow, strikes particles as they pass through the beam generating unique light
scattering patterns that are captured by photodetectors. Microorganisms produce patterns termed 'bio-optical signatures'
which are comparable to fingerprints. By comparing these bio-optical signatures to an on-board database of
microorganism patterns, detection and classification occurs within minutes. If a pattern is not recognized, it is classified
as an 'unknown' and the unidentified contaminant is registered as a potential threat. In either case, if the contaminant
exceeds a customer's threshold, the system will immediately alert personnel to the contamination event while extracting
a sample for confirmation.
The system, BioSentryTM, developed by JMAR Technologies is now field-tested and commercially available. BioSentry
is cost effective, uses no reagents, operates remotely, and can be used for continuous microbial surveillance in many
water treatment environments. Examples of HLS installations will be presented along with data from the US EPA
NHSRC Testing and Evaluation Facility.