back to article GLOWING TAMPONS hold the key to ending pollution

A paper by a University of Sheffield research team, published Tuesday in the Water and Environmental Journal, has sought to answer one of the eternal questions facing humanity — how female hygiene products can be used to detect sewer misconnection discharge. Professor of Environmental Engineering David Lerner told The Register …

  1. Little Mouse

    And then what...?

    If you stuff tampons into them, won't all the lakes & rivers just dry up?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Zarno Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Pull the felt ink retainers out of hi-lighter pens, steep in glasses of water (or rubbing alcohol), and you'll have green/pink/yellow/blue/etc solutions to color your art installation.

      Not all hi-lighters will glow under UV though, so check before hand.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was wondering why the local sewer system was riding bikes, walking dogs, going hiking...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ AC

        Had to sign in, just to up vote. Actual Lol (post short cognitive delay).

  3. Mr_Pitiful

    Ok so how can I help?

    Should I dye all my wifes and let her use them or just dye them and flush them away?

    Inquiring minds need to know, as she WILL ask why the boxes are emply

    Hope it works for septic tanks, as we don't have mains sewers here!!! ;)

    The icon looks close to tampons

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. MiguelC Silver badge

    Why use tampons?

    Couldn't they just take water samples and analyse those? It's done that way for sea pollution, don't really see why the use of tampons is needed.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Why use tampons?

      Wild guesses:

      Almost everything contains fluorescors. Tampons might be one of the few things that don't.

      The concentration in fluorescors in river water could be too low to detect with cheap equipment.

      Washing powders include fluorescors to make your shirts look whiter. If the fluorescor simply rinsed out, it would not be of any use. I assume they include one that binds to cotton.

      If my three guesses are correct, tampons concentrate fluorescors to the point where they become easily detectable with cheap portable equipment.

      1. Sweep

        Re: Why use tampons?

        I imagine it's easier this way than taking samples for testing in the lab. Tampons don't cost much.

        I can only assume they use tampons instead of cotton balls because they have a handy string for tying them to things.

        Plus if they used cotton balls it wouldn't be in all the national newspapers. This has been done for ages by cavers wanting to find out if point A and point B are connected underwater: place some cotton balls at point B, tip some laundry detergent in at point A and go back with a UV light a few days later....

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. M. Poolman

      Re: Why use tampons?

      Sea water analysis is done microbiologically, which takes several days and can't be done in the field. This sounds like a quick, convenient and cheap alternative, although probably not very quantitative.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT angle?

    Aunt Irma visits

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IT angle?

      Irma? What kind of name is that? Here in the US its called Aunt Flo...

  6. x 7

    they make good temporary dressings for bullet wounds as well. They swell up to seal the hole.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Once, had my fingers ripped of by machinery, in order to work on the wound, they used sanitary towels as a packing material to absorb and hold in place.

  7. Ilsa Loving

    Dangerous precident

    I'm not sure using Tampons for anything other than their original purpose is a good idea. I forsee unintended consequences, particularly with men as they already have difficulty dealing with the concept.

    Perfect example:

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Dangerous precident

      I'm not sure using Tampons for anything other than their original purpose is a good idea.

      A few years ago I cut my head, it was bleeding profusely and wouldn't stop. After soaking through multiple tea towels a female friend took a sanitary pad from her bag and suggested I try it. It worked perfectly: the bleeding was controlled almost instantly.

      Icon: me holding a pad to a cut on my head.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can they only do it once a month?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious

      Only if the river flows...

    2. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Curious

      <pregnant pause>

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Glowing Tampons

    Ah, the old chestnut that is the Glowing Tampon. Is there nothing that Glowing Tampons cannot be used for? Often these days, in very diverse applications, Glowing Tampons are the solution that scientists are turning to, again and again. Whatever the vexing question, it would appear that Glowing Tampons are the answer. People are smoking them, building houses out of them... They'll be eating them next.

  10. CJ_in_AZ

    What I find surprising is that it was a guy who came up with this one. (Hmm... wish The Reg had a "send link to" button -- guess I'll just have to cut & paste the URL into a note to my girlfriend.)

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      I'm guessing:

      A: Dave Chandler's girlfriend is wondering where her tampons have gone

      B: Dave's going to be in trouble when she finds out

  11. x 7

    If tampons were radioactive you probably wouldn't need contraceptives

  12. Paul J Turner

    Always good to see

    Someone thinking outside the box.

  13. skeptical i

    Likely not I-90 if it's in Mississippi

    The 'alt' text for the photo of lock-and-dam in Mississippi should pro'ly read US-90 and not I-90, as I-90 runs from Massachusetts to Seattle and US-90 runs along the south of the country. Nice photo, though.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Likely not I-90 if it's in Mississippi

      Firefox isn't showing me the alt text, for some reason, but the image URL says it's Lock and Dam number 7 on the Mississippi River, not somewhere in the state of Mississippi. Wikipedia says L&D7 is on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. Apparently it is just upstream from the I-90 Mississippi River bridge.

  14. Dave Pickles

    Bradford Beck?

    Good luck with your project in that 'watercourse', guys. Not the least of your problems will be working out which of the tampons were actually yours...

  15. David_H

    Errr... Just discovered?

    It has been the detector of choice for hydrologists studying the flows of cave water for years. We drop the optical brighteners in a stream in a cave and have tampons at all the possible outlets. We replace the 'sensors' at regular periods to find out which is the outflow and how long it took for the water to flow through (an indication of how much of the route has air spaces). - so many puns!

    1. x 7

      Re: Errr... Just discovered?

      "tampons at all the possible out outlets. "

      Won't that cause the cave to back up and flood?

  16. x 7

    if they used these USB powered tampons they could save a lot of time trying to read the data

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

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