CytoSense measuring water contamination in Dutch and Chinese waters

02.09.2019  by  Tina Silovic


Image 1: Examples of Sino-Dutch twinning is the link between the IJsselmeer and Lake Tai (wave measurements, water quality/algae blooms) and the link between the Huai River and the Rhine (flood safety and operational crises management).

70% of the Dutch population lives below sea level. That is one of the main reasons the Netherlands has such a huge expertise in flood control and clean water. Moreover, they have been contributing and collaborating in water-related issues around the world in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. One of many fruitful collaborations to mention is certainly the one between Rijkswaterstaat (Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) and the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) which started over 15 years ago. In this concrete, problem-oriented cooperation between the two countries, twinning has become an important ingredient to learn mutually from both parties (Image 1).
One of the important recent emerging problems they are trying to tackle are toxic algal blooms, occurring more often and more intense in diverse waterbodies as an effect to climate change. Algal blooms endanger human health, the environment and economies for which urgent alerts are of essence. Traditional techniques might fall short in fast alerts due to the time delay in sample analysis. Application of recent technology with fast alerting sensors definitely help in managing the emerged problems. Since China showed impressive willingness to try out innovations, our imaging flow cytometer CytoSense will be simultaneously used in Dutch and Chinese waters to monitoring algal composition as explained in the following paragraph by Gerard de Vries, (programe manager of the Netherlands-China collaboration at Rijkswaterstraat, NL).

“An innovative example of such a technique is developed by a Dutch company called Cytobuoy, which measures water contamination which has been caused by blue-green algae. People can get very sick by drinking blue-green algae. In the past, someone had to take a little boat up in the lake to take a water sample and bring it back to the laboratory. Using this newly developed technique you can measure the composition of the algae every 10 minutes and see its development. We are going to test this technique in the Ijsselmeer in the Netherlands and the Tai lake near Shanghai. These lakes are very comparable in size and depth, which makes it easy to exchange and compare the results. By testing this technique in the Netherlands and China, we strengthen the scientific basis for its wide-spread implementation. Implementing it in Tai lake will mean a decrease of public health risks and enables business to work on a more efficient basis with limited water supplies.”

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