Atomic Arsenic Assay Assessment
by David Bradley
Groundwater contaminated with soluble arsenic salts is an insidious
environmental problem killing thousands each year in the developing world,
but, unlike more acute natural disasters, draws little interest from the
developed world. New analytical approaches to testing groundwater could help
Researchers in Vietnam and Switzerland have developed the first large-scale method for validating the microbial reporter-based test for measuring arsenic concentrations in natural water resources. Their test is based on a modified bacterium (Escherichia coli), engineered to bioluminesce on induction by arsenic ions. The team has developed specific protocols for overcoming interference from iron and has now confirmed the viability of the test against results obtained using atomic absorption spectroscopy.