A Kolkata-based company has come up with a cost-effective and user-friendly arsenic detection and removal sensor that can even sense soluble arsenic. The sensor was developed in partnership with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research.
"It is very different from the present day's available sensors, it is very easy to use, very cost effective and anyone can use it to detect arsenic easily," said Sanjib Parial, MD of the manufacturing company.
The product 'Arsenic Sensor and Removal Media' was unveiled on Wednesday.
As per WHO, soluble inorganic arsenic is acutely toxic. Intake of inorganic arsenic over a long period can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning (arsenicosis), diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
The arsenic sensing and removal mechanisms West Bengal had were not cost effective.
"The arsenic sensor is capable of sensing soluble arsenic, it is so soluble that it is very problematic to detect and remove it" said Parial.
"The sensor can sense up to parts per billion (ppb) level, which would be very useful. There are many techniques which sense parts per million (ppm), so ppm to ppb will make a lot of difference in sensitivity," exclaims IISER Director Sourav Pal.
The only country which mines arsenic is China. Arsenic pollution is a big problem in Bengal and neighbouring states.
"They are mining for a commercial enterprise, therefore, they can implement solutions at the company level but our arsenic is coming in the drinking water," said Thirumalachari Ramasami, former Secretary to the government of India, Department of Science and Technology.
"At this stage, we are quite far away, in fact, the whole world is far away," Ramasami told IANS when asked about the effective management of this toxic product.
According to WHO, the permissible limit of arsenic in groundwater is 0.1 mg per litre. In India the permissible arsenic level in drinking water was recently revised from 0.05 mg/l to 0.01 mg/l by the Bureau of Indian Standards.
In Bengal Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia have higher levels of arsenic concentration.
"For instance in Nadia district level of arsenic concentration is around 2.5ppm to 3ppm of arsenic in the water," mentioned Raja Shunmugam, associate professor of IISER.