Project Lead(s): Scott Tsai
Arsenic poisoning from groundwater is a major issue in Bangladesh and about 45 million residents are at risk because of arsenic in drinking water.
Conventional technologies have been developed to remove arsenic from water but have numerous drawbacks, making them unsuitable and unsustainable for developing countries.
The team aimed to develop a lab-on-a-chip system that detects and quantifies the concentration of arsenic in drinking water.
The goal was to develop a device that is very inexpensive (i.e., < $0.10 per test) and easy to use, that can detect down to 10 ppb of arsenic in water and be implemented in the villages of developing nations like Bangladesh.
A paper-based, lab-on-a-chip system has been developed that miniaturizes the colorimetric molybdenum-blue assay onto small paper strips.
The test kits are completely dry (reagent-free), cost ~$0.10 per test and are very easy-to-use. The user just has to put the test paper into a small container of the contaminated water; then, after some time, take the paper out and the colour on the paper will change.
At the moment, the limit of detection for the device is ~70 ppb, which is higher than the World Health Organization’s threshold of 10 ppb. Also, the assay does not yet have a mechanism to remove interference from phosphates.
As the current approach relies on a camera to take pictures of the paper devices to perform image analysis to quantify the arsenic concentration, the team is developing a mobile app platform that could rely on a smartphone to conduct the image analysis.
The plan is to further refine the device and then test it with groundwater in Bangladesh.
Once the device is complete and verified, the project team would like to scale up the process by applying for a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grant.