Toxins Flock to Beads in a Scientific Tea Bag

By Ashleigh Papp

When a New Zealand scientist shared a novel method to test water quality in the early 2000s that didn’t involve harvesting shellfish, UC Santa Cruz’ Raphael Kudela and his team of researchers quickly adopted the idea. After some fine-tuning, they named their new technique Solid Phase Adsorption Toxin Testing (SPATT, for short). The technique takes advantage of custom-built plastic, or resin, beads that are designed to absorb specific things. “It looks a lot like a tea bag,” says Kudela. So far, SPATT has been used to measure water quality from the Santa Cruz Wharf to the Berkeley Marina and at the mouths of the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers.

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About the author

Ashleigh Papp is a science writer based in San Francisco. She has a background in animal science and biology, she enjoys writing about emerging environmental issues, our oceans, and conservation-related science. For ESTUARY, she often covers wildlife. When not reading or writing, she's playing outside with friends or inside with her cat, Sandy.

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