The production of more advanced sensors to improve the detection of pesticides in water and other environmental samples has been helped by a grant of almost 1.23 million euro from the EU's Framework Programme.
With seven partners from four EU member states, the SAFEGUARD project was designed to systematically evaluate specifically tailored enzymes as the basis for the production of sensors that are able to detect significantly lower levels of pesticides than has previously been possible.
"This project permits detection limits of pesticides such as Paraxon for environmental protection applications down to concentrations (of 1x10-17M) that until now were unobtainable", says Professor Seamus Higson of Cranfield University. "The enzymes will be produced by molecular biology techniques to be selectively responsive and sensitive to the presence of pesticides. They will be the basis for the production of established sensors, able to rapidly and routinely quantify pesticides in water and other environmental samples at concentrations below recommended acceptance levels.
"This work will provide a new tool for environmental protection purposes for use both in the field as well as laboratory based determinations"
The sensors will be fabricated by advanced interfacial techniques and will allow software control, data processing, chemometric analysis and routine monitoring capabilities.
"SAFEGUARD is an excellent example of how Framework Funding is being used to help protect and improve the lives of future generations", says Catherine Holt, FP6UK's National Contact Point for Global Change and Ecosystems. "Pesticides are a part of our every day lives but it is only right that we invest research and development funding into projects like this to continually improve our ability to monitor levels in the environment.