Skip to main content
Skip to main content
for

Scientists call for the democratization of water testing

EVANSTON, Ill. — Ahead of World Water Day on March 22, scientists from Northwestern University are calling for the democratization of water testing by introducing a device that is rapid, cheap and accurate – providing results within an hour.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 2 billion people worldwide use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. This is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrheal deaths each year. In the United States, 43 million people rely on well water, which is almost never tested.

Sera Young is an associate professor of anthropology and global health in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and a Carnegie Fellow. Julius Lucks is an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and a co-founder of Stemloop, Inc. They can be reached by contacting Amanda Morris at amandamo@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Sera Young
“Water quality is regularly threatened by crumbling infrastructure, fires, sewage overflows, agricultural run-off, and forever chemicals sprayed in unexpected places. While we do a good job of testing for standard contaminants, such as E. coli, the EPA has identified more than 100 ‘contaminants of emerging concern,’ most of which are not screened for at all.”

Aaron Packman is professor of civil and environmental engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and director of the Center for Water Research at Northwestern. He can be reached by contacting Amanda Morris at amandamo@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Packman
“2020 clearly demonstrated the links between water and health, with the emphasis on sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many places and people around the world still suffer from water insecurity, which means that they don't have safe water to drink or enough water and soap to even wash their hands. Climate change is exacerbating these problems by shifting patterns of rainfall. We're seeing that nearly everywhere, but regions that were already arid are most vulnerable to climate change.”