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CHAPEL HILL, NC, January 22, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Aquagenx, LLC, a provider of innovative microbial water quality testing products that detect potential health risks, was awarded a USAID Pioneers Prize for its Compartment Bag Test (CBT), a simple, portable water quality test that lets anyone, anywhere quantify fecal bacteria in drinking water without needing electricity, laboratories, refrigeration, technicians or expensive equipment.
USAID selected the Aquagenx CBT for an Honorable Mention award as one of 15 total winners out of nearly 90 entrants in the competition, which is the first-ever USAID Science and Technology Pioneers Prize contest. The purpose of the USAID Pioneers Prize is to seek out new, technologically sophisticated ways of delivering services and achieving development outcomes.
The CBT solves major challenges for bacteriological water quality testing and ongoing monitoring in low resource and disaster settings by enabling onsite testing, eliminating the need to send water samples to a laboratory and wait for lab sample analysis and processing. Testing can be done in the field by anyone with little training, individuals in a household as well as scientists, and is completed in a few steps that generate easy to score, visual, color change results that quantify the amount of E. coli bacteria in a 100 milliliter water sample.
Portable and compact, a CBT Kit is self-contained and includes all supplies needed for 10 tests that fit in a small box, ideal for travel and remote locations. The CBT also includes built-in decontamination.
Dr. Mark D. Sobsey is co-inventor of the CBT and a Keenan Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is internationally known for research, teaching and service in environmental health microbiology and virology and in water, sanitation and hygiene, with more than 200 published papers and reports.
"Winning Honorable Mention for the USAID Pioneers Prize is such a great honor and immensely gratifying," says Sobsey. "My students and I first began researching the need for a better, more convenient to use water quality monitoring product in 2007. One of the most difficult things to test for in terms of water quality is fecal bacteria, and we wanted anyone to be able to open a box and run tests no matter who or where they were. We also knew that we needed to enable anyone to measure the amount of E. coli bacteria in water to know where the biggest health risks are and take action."
"In its pre-commercial stages," continues Sobsey, "the CBT was extensively piloted and field tested in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Peru and Tanzania, including a Peruvian Demographic and Health Survey in 2011 and the post-disaster recovery response in Haiti in 2012. We launched Aquagenx, LLC in 2012 and the CBT became available commercially in 2013. My colleagues and I want to thank USAID for recognizing our test, which we hope will continue to be used around the world to help provide safe drinking water and eliminate millions of deaths and disease due to water contaminated by fecal bacteria."
In addition to water quality testing and monitoring in developing countries and disaster settings, the CBT has versatile applications including measuring water quality of private wells, agricultural water and recreational water.
The Aquagenx CBT also received a LAUNCH Water Innovation Prize in 2010. In December 2013, the CBT was approved by the Government of the Philippines Ministry of Health to assist with post-disaster restoration of critical water services following Super Typhoon Haiyan. The test was also featured by USAID on the cover of its 2013 innovations catalog, "The Catalog: Version 1.0."
Aquagenx provides innovative water quality testing products that detect potential health risks and helps eliminate the millions of annual deaths due to contaminated drinking water. The Compartment Bag Test (CBT) is a portable, simple, microbial water test that addresses the needs of low resource, underserved markets. It has versatile applications for low resource settings and household level testing by individuals, government agencies, NGOs, water utilities and disaster/emergency responders for ongoing water quality monitoring.
Aquagenx and the CBT are the result of groundbreaking research and development led by Dr. Mark D. Sobsey and Dr. Ku McMahan at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.
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