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Surprising Science

Using Smart Ink To Prevent Infections From Syringes

Nominated for an INDEX Award, David Swann's ABC Syringe changes color when it's exposed to air, thus providing a visual alert that it may be unsafe to use. The device could save more than a million lives each year.

What’s the Latest Development?


Huddersfield University researcher David Swann has designed a syringe that could help prevent the spread of infection by providing an unmistakable sign that it may not be safe to use. The shell of the ABC Syringe contains a special kind of ink that reacts to the presence of carbon dioxide. Once it’s removed from its sealed container, the shell turns dark red after about a minute of exposure. Swann’s invention has been nominated for an INDEX Award, which is given to people whose designs could potentially help solve global challenges.

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What’s the Big Idea?

World Health Organization figures indicate that over a million people die every year from unsafe injection practices, and they account for nearly a third of hepatitis A and B cases worldwide. In India alone at least half of the 4-5 billion injections given yearly are unsafe, and Swann says it’s not uncommon for people to scavenge for old syringes that they can wash and resell: “When you compare a sterile syringe just out of its packaging with a syringe that’s been washed, how do you determine the difference?” He notes that the success of the ABC Syringe would depend on a dedicated public education campaign that would train both medical professionals and patients to automatically recognize a red syringe as unsafe.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at CNN


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