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Seacoast Science, Inc.

Superfund Research Program

Detection of Perfuorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in Liquid Samples

Project Leader: Sanjay V. Patel
Grant Number: R41ES031483
Funding Period: Phase I: July 2020 - June 2021
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Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are toxic and persistent compounds resulting from the production and use of fluoropolymers such as Gortex and Teflon. The structure of PFAS preclude environmental degradation and can lead to bioaccumulation in animals and humans. Reported adverse effects of these compounds in humans include: increase in serum cholesterol; elevated risk of prostate cancer; decreased sperm count; and increased risk of preeclampsia.

In this project, researchers are synthesizing fluorinated molecularly imprinted polymers (FMIPs) as materials that not only specifically bind the target analytes but also by the design of the material surface limit non-specific binding. The FMIPs are composed of a novel fluorinated crosslinking monomer with two different functionalized co-monomers. The device uses these materials deposited on a proprietary sensor platform developed at Seacoast Science. The concept is being validated against a representative PFOA and PFOS in water.

To accomplish the goals of this project, the researchers are doing the following:

  • Synthesis and characterization of a novel fluorinated crosslinking monomer;
  • Synthesis and and characterization of FMIP nanoparticles;
  • Initial screening/down selection of MIP nanoparticles using a gravimetric sensor platform; and
  • Coating and testing optimum MIP nanoparticles on the proprietary sensor platform.

This tool will allow the real-time monitoring of PFOA/PFOS in fluids. Early adopters of the technology will be government agencies tasked with environmental monitoring. After this initial use, field testing, and production optimization, other more risk averse agencies such as water districts may be convinced to purchase the technology for point detection. The final market is the industrial sources of other perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The modular nature of the FMIP synthesis allows for a facile change in the imprinting analyte: the use of systems and methods developed during this project will allow for rapid optimization of the sensor to a novel PFAS (i. e. F53-B, ADONA, FOSA, E1, 5:3 FTSA). Finally, once the sensor has been on the market for a sufficient time, it may be adapted for the detection of PFAS in more complex matrices like biological fluids. This tool will allow wide spread epidemiological studies looking at PFA exposure levels for large populations.

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