CSI tackle UK pollution case

Water pollution could soon be tracked down using 'CSI style' DNA techniques, according to the Environment Agency.

The agency has launched what it claims to be the first project of its kind in the world to use the latest technology to pinpoint the source of faecal and sewage pollution.

The CSI Seaside scheme will target the main sources of bathing water pollution, which are agricultural manure, animal faeces or human sewage.

The agency will use new techniques to isolate the DNA of faecal matter found in bathing water at its National Laboratory Service to tell whether it’s human or animal in origin.

The process is called microbial source tracking and will, hopefully, allow environment officers to identify sources of pollution and take action to stop it entering bathing water.

The agency’s head of water quality and monitoring, Doug Wilson, said: “Bathing water quality has improved dramatically over the last 20 years and almost every beach now meets quality standards. But we want to do even more.

“By using forensic techniques, we can help pinpoint the exact causes of pollution and tackle them, helping us to make sure that water will continue to improve in future years for our bathers.”

Advanced monitoring and prediction projects have been given an additional £350,000 boost in financial year 09/10 to accelerate their development.

Luke Walsh

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