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Biohazard Wipe

October 11, 2006

A new fabric can detect just about any biohazard–from E. coli to anthrax–instantly.


An instant biohazard detector. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A new technology could soon move biohazard detection out of the lab and into hospitals, food preparation facilities, and crime scenes. Cornell University fiber scientist Margaret Frey and her colleagues created a special fabric that anyone could wipe over a surface. The fabric has special sites that can hold antibodies to just about any biohazard, including salmonella, strep bacteria, and anthrax.

MARGARET FREY (Cornell University):
Basically as long as there’s an antibody available or some kind of biorecognition agent available, we can attach that onto the fabric, and then the fabric will collect that specific thing.

So far, they can only collect one biohazard at a time, but they ultimately hope to collect hundreds. They’re also working on ways to make the fabric change color when the hazard’s detected, so people will know immediately.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.