Fast, sensitive and cost-effective detection of nerve agents in the gas phase using a portable instrument and an electrochemical biosensor
The nerve agents are chemical warfare agents known to be used during terrorist attacks. An inexpensive and portable system to be used by first responders and military personnel is of interest owing to the continuing threat of possible terrorist attacks. Amperometric biosensors based on cholinesterase inhibition show such potentialities. In this work butyrylcholinesterase was immobilized onto screen-printed electrodes modified with Prussian blue and the nerve agent detection was performed by measuring the residual activity of enzyme. The optimized biosensor was tested with sarin and VX standard solutions, showing detection limits of 12 and 14 ppb (10% of inhibition), respectively. The enzymatic inhibition was also obtained by exposing the biosensors to sarin in gas phase. Two different concentrations of sarin gas (0.1 and 0.5 mg m−3) at different incubation times (from 30 s up to 10 min) were tested. It is possible to detect sarin at a concentration of 0.1 mg m−3 with 30-s incubation time, with a degree of inhibition of 34%, which match the legal limits (immediate danger to life and health).
KeywordsBiosensor Nerve agents Butyrylcholinesterase Screen printed electrode
The authors acknowledge the financial support provided by Aerosekur S.p.a., Aprilia, Italy.
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