ARSOlux - The Luminous Water Test

ARSOlux Biosensor

The Problem

Approximately 137 million people around the world, with 90 million people in Bangladesh and China alone, consume arsenic contaminated water, exceeding the WHO threshold of 10 µg/L. Regular field testing of millions of drinking water wells is urgently required. Carrying out hundreds or thousands of tests in remote rural regions worldwide is logistically difficult and needs infrastructure, large material and financial resources.

The Solution

ARSOlux is a robust, precise and easy to handle water test kit, which enables fast, parallel screenings of large numbers of drinking water samples for arsenic with low material expenditure. The ARSOlux biosensor is cost-effective and does not create toxic waste. The sensor was already successfully tested in laboratory test series with ground- and surface water samples from India, Vietnam, Mongolia and Bangladesh.

The patented biosensor emits light when brought into contact with arsenic dissolved in water. The luminescence of the genetically modified bioreporter bacteria E.coli K12 is detected by the portable measuring device AQUA-CHECK3. The quantifiable light intensity correlates directly with the arsenic concentration in the water sample. Integrated software stores test results and GPS data of each measurement.

History and Current Status

Professor Dr. Hauke Harms and Professor Dr. Jan Roelof van der Meer jointly developed the ARSOlux biosensor at the University of Lausanne. Already in 2003, the innovative arsenic test was patented. The optimization process was finalized at the Department of Environmental Microbiology of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in 2015. Mid 2015 the Aquacheck GmbH was founded, which commercializes the AQUA-CHECK3.

The AQUA-CHECK3 can measure up to 80 relevant parameters for drinking water and waste water including the ARSOlux test. The Aquacheck GmbH continues its strong relationship with the Department of Environmental Microbiology. They jointly work on developing additional sensors, which can be included in the AQUA-CHECK technology.