Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA To Develop Biohazard "Smoke" Detector

Date:
October 24, 2002
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have demonstrated a prototype device that automatically and continuously monitors the air for the presence of bacterial spores. The result is a novel alarm capability reminiscent of smoke detectors.

Researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have demonstrated a prototype device that automatically and continuously monitors the air for the presence of bacterial spores. The result is a novel alarm capability reminiscent of smoke detectors.

Current methods for detecting bacterial spores, such as anthrax, require a trained operator. The large number of trained monitors required, with associated costs, limits widespread implementation of these methods.

"Having a technician continuously monitor the air for spores is like having the fire department live at your house to ensure that there is no fire," said Dr. Adrian Ponce, a chemist and senior member of the technical staff at JPL. "What you want is a smoke detector, a device that continuously monitors the air for smoke, or in our case, bacterial spores," he said.

Ponce is co-author of a paper titled "An Anthrax 'Smoke' Detector: Online Monitoring of Aerosolized Bacterial Spores," which recently appeared in Engineering in Medicine and Biology magazine, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. The paper details recent tests to detect airborne bacterial spores.

In a related development, JPL recently entered into an agreement with Universal Detection Technology, Beverly Hills, Calif., a public company specializing in environmental monitoring technologies. The agreement, to mutually develop a commercially available anthrax 'smoke' detector, will combine JPL spore detection technology with Universal's aerosol capture device. The partnership with Universal Detection Technology is possible through the Technology Affiliates Program, one of many Commercial Technology Programs aimed at transferring JPL knowledge to the private sector to improve public quality of life.

Ponce and Elizabeth D. Lester, a senior in microbiology at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, performed the tests on the anthrax detector last summer. Their paper details test results using harmless Bacillus subtilis spores that were aerosolized to simulate an anthrax attack. Bacillus subtilis is found worldwide in soils and on root vegetables.

During the tests, aerosolized spores were captured with an aerosol sampler and suspended in a solution. Suspended spores were ruptured with microwaves to release a chemical from inside the spores called dipicolinic acid, which is unique to bacterial spores. This dipicolinic acid instantaneously reacts with the chemical sensor in the solution. The sensor triggers an intense green luminescence when viewed under ultraviolet light. The intensity of the luminescence corresponds to the concentration of bacterial spores in the sample.

If an increase in spore concentration is detected, an alarm sounds. A technician would respond to confirm the presence of anthrax spores using traditional sampling and analysis, such as colony counting and polymerase chain reaction, which amplifies DNA to measurable concentrations. The instrument response time is 15 minutes, fast enough to help prevent widespread contamination.

JPL's bacterial spore detection system is simple and robust, a prerequisite for continuous monitoring. The system is designed for constant and unattended monitoring of spaces such as public facilities and commercial buildings. Two features of the device prevent false alarms. JPL's detection technology discriminates against detecting aerosol components, such as dust, and the device only sounds an alarm when it detects a significant increase in spore count.

The system being used by Universal Detection Technology cannot distinguish between inorganic particles or biological substances such as bacterial spores. For the next 12 months, JPL will work to incorporate its bacterial spore detection technology to make the device sensitive enough for use by Universal as a bioterrorism warning monitor.

JPL initially became involved in monitoring bacterial spores to quantify the concentration of spores in spacecraft assembly facilities. These are the facilities where spacecraft are built and housed before missions launch. NASA has a planetary protection policy regulating biological contamination control for all spacecraft. Under this policy, JPL researchers must take precautions against accidentally transferring microbes to other planets. This experience gives JPL researchers unique capabilities to perform work in detecting microorganisms.

The California Institute of Technology manages JPL for NASA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA To Develop Biohazard "Smoke" Detector." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021024065905.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2002, October 24). NASA To Develop Biohazard "Smoke" Detector. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021024065905.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "NASA To Develop Biohazard "Smoke" Detector." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021024065905.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins