Purnendu Dasgupta

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

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What do you do when life-saving technology harms the environment? If you’re chemistry Professor Purnendu “Sandy” Dasgupta, you innovate. His analyzer for arsenic in drinking water is less expensive and more effective and environmentally friendly than current methods of arsenic detection, which involve toxic chemicals like lead and mercury. This technology could help the more than 60 million people at risk of exposure from naturally occurring arsenic contamination in South and East Asia. There, at least 700,000 have arsenicosis, which is caused by chronic arsenic exposure through drinking water and can lead to serious health problems, including fatal cancers. With a National Science Foundation grant, Dr. Dasgupta developed a more sensitive testing machine that could be used in the field. “The instrument presently uses basically water, air, electricity, and a very small amount of sulfuric acid that is recycled,” says Dasgupta, whose invention was lauded by a select group of NSF researchers. “It’s truly a green analyzer.”

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