Tel Aviv University physics Professor Abraham Katzir says most Americans take the safety of their drinking water for granted, but he said ordinary tap water could become deadly within minutes.
To defend against contamination, as well as pollution caused by industrial spillage, natural disaster or sabotage, Katzir and his team created special fibers that can detect "colors" in the infrared spectrum that distinguish between pure and contaminated water.
The researchers said their fiber optic system could become one of the first real-time water monitors in the United States to provide protection from chemoterrorism attacks.
"It's unlikely that someone will poison the water supply in Afghanistan," Katzir said, "but America is in grave danger and needs to arm itself against chemical threats to its drinking water."
Preliminary field experiments have been conducted at several European sites, and the results were reported recently in the Journal of Applied Spectroscopy.