Students of Universitas Gadjah Mada's (UGM) Faculty of Engineering have successfully developed a tool to detect mercury in cosmetics. The development of the tool, called the Mercury Auto Detection System (MADS), was the work of Andy Aulia Prahardika, Al Birru Kausal Poso, Luthfia Adila, I Made Wiryawan, and Tirta Inovan.
Andy Aulia said that the development of MADS originated from their concern about the sale of cosmetic products containing mercury which endanger health. Although there is already a detector for food and medicines, the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS), this tool is very expensive at around IDR200 million. In addition, the AAS has huge dimensions making it impractical to carry anywhere.
"Therefore, we tried to create a tool that is able to detect the content of mercury in cosmetic products as well as food in a more practical form," he explained.
Not only that, the tool they developed is much cheaper. Its production cost is only around IDR 1 million. It is also much smaller than a spectrophotometer. For its energy need, MADS uses rechargable batteries, so it is suitable for field use.
"With its practical form, it allows the tool to be used when performing sudden inspection in the field for testing foods directly," he explained.
The working principle of this device is similar to that of the spectrophotometer. The target substance will be bombarded by monochromatic light to be absorbed by the color detector. Furthermore, the resulting color will be interpreted using the available substance criteria.
"This tool has been tested as being able to detect mercury and other substances," he concluded.