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April Gu pioneers new water testing technology

May 15, 2013

April Gu, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering

April Gu is pioneering new technologies to quickly and effectively identify toxic substances in drinking water in both developed and developing nations. Scientists suspect there are hundreds or even thousands of chemicals in a single glass of water. But existing water-quality tests—even in first-world countries—are often time-consuming and imprecise, which means that most of the chemicals in our water remain a mystery. Gu wants to change that.

Gu and her team are creating devices such as a nanobiosensor that would detect in water trace amounts of increasingly common environmental pollutants, such as antibiotics and endocrine disrupting compounds. If consumed daily, such chemicals could lead to health issues later, including cancer and reproductive problems.

Gu’s test will arm policymakers with more precise data about our water—the first step toward developing better technologies and regulatory will to clean it.