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Your Environment. Your Health.

Advanced Microlabs, LLC

Superfund Research Program

Microchip-based Perchlorate Analyzer for Water Remediation Monitoring and Field Assessments

Project Leader: Dale Willard
Grant Number: R43ES017200
Funding Period: Phase I: September 2008 – September 2009


This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project will develop a prototype online perchlorate monitor for a resin bed perchlorate remediation reactor. The device will have less than 4 ppb limit-of-detection, provide results in less than 3 min., and require only periodic microchip replacement as routine maintenance.  Currently, perchlorate can only be detected below 10 ppb using laboratory based equipment requiring trained technicians and, most importantly, at least several hours of time, rendering it impractical for online monitoring. The Henry Group at Colorado State University has recently demonstrated sub ppb perchlorate detection using a patent-pending lab-on-a-chip technology with results that include real water sample testing. This technology opens the door for online monitoring of perchlorate remediation operations, which will significantly reduce the costs. Entire resin beds costing $100k in materials and additional costs in disposal would no longer be needed.  Phase I of this proposal will: 1. Develop pumps, valves, instrumentation, etc. to assemble a field deployable device; 2. Optimize microchip functions by incorporating a sample membrane barrier and assessing non-hazardous alternative internal standards; and 3. Method validation and field testing.

Human exposure to perchlorate is of concern because of the potential for impaired thyroid function, leading to a number of developmental delays and other medical problems. Its prevalence in the environment gained interest in the late 1990's, once a method was developed for its detection at the 4 ppb level. In 2005, after being added to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR1) list, a sampling of 2800 large water systems and 800 smaller systems, representing less than 10% of all US water systems, revealed contamination in 153 sites over 25 states. As of 2005, 120 remediation projects were underway, including 15 Superfund sites, costing hundred's of millions of dollars to fund, mostly coming from government coffers. Advanced Microlabs, LLC's online monitoring device will significantly reduce costs for remediation. In addition to lowering costs to existing remediation, it will also allow smaller communities address cleanup that would otherwise not have enough resources. 

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