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Simple arsenic sensor could save lives

A low-cost, easy-to-use arsenic sensor that can be used to test drinking water has been developed by researchers at University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London, with BBSRC funding. Bio Nano Consulting, a spin-out company from the two universities, has patented the sensor design and is now carrying out field trials.

Data breakout

140M People worldwide who drink arsenic-contaminated water
70 Countries affected by arsenic-contaminated water
$1 Cost, per test, of measuring arsenic levels
£850k Funding leveraged by Bio Nano Consulting for arsenic sensor work

The sensor is small, sensitive and accurate, and produces an immediate measure of the arsenic level in water, at a cost of less than $1 per test. This makes it suitable for testing multiple sites in rural areas in low and middle income countries, where the problem of arsenic poisoning from contaminated drinking water is greatest. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 140 million people across 70 countries drink water that contains unsafe levels of arsenic.

Dr Joanne Santini, who developed the sensors together with Professor Tony Cass using BBSRC Follow-on Funding and a BBSRC Case Studentship, expects them to be on the market within three years. This work earned Santini a position as a finalist in the International Impact category at BBSRC’s 2017 Innovator of the Year competition.

Read the full impact evidence report:

Simple arsenic sensor could save lives (PDF 566KB)

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