Superfund Research Program
Field Deployable Vapor Intrusion Monitor
Project Leader: Bikas Vaidya
Grant Number: R44ES021625
Funding Period: Phase II: September 2013 – August 2017
Many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in industrial processes have adverse health effects and, when inadvertently released into the environment, have the potential to contaminate drinking water supplies or affect air quality. VOCs are a particular concern when found at elevated concentrations inside buildings. Monitoring of VOCs is important for environmental protection.
Whereas VOCs are traditionally monitored by sample transfer to an off-site laboratory, there are many advantages to using portable monitoring devices for real time data collection at the contamination site itself, including logistics costs of field work is significantly reduced due to rapid turnaround of test results, data collected more accurately reflect the profile of contamination at the site, and errors due to sample storage and transportation are minimized.
Unfortunately on site monitoring of VOC contamination is constrained by the limited capabilities of currently available portable detection devices. New types of portable monitoring devices are needed by regulators and operators of hazardous waste sites.
This project concerns development of a miniature cartridge-based sample collection method that pre-concentrates VOCs with high selectivity. The approach incorporates advances in solid phase extraction, exploits novel selective coatings for optical detection, needs minimal user expertise and operates without reagents, solvents or carrier gas. The sample collection method is being integrated with existing portable spectrometers, thereby providing a means to unambiguously identify VOCs at low concentrations in a highly portable format. Devices with exactly these characteristics are needed by regulators but are not available commercially.
The Phase I study successfully demonstrated the method's feasibility by sampling and detecting chlorinated VOCs (chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons) at low parts per billion levels. These chemicals are among the most common environmental pollutants, having a potential to migrate into the living spaces of buildings and cause a significant chemical exposure concern. Device versatility was demonstrated by sampling and detection of VOCs in both the vapor and liquid phase.
As part of the Phase II study, Lynntech, Inc. is better understanding the capabilities of key components used for selective sampling and addressing methods needed for assembly of a functional device. Lynntech, Inc. is also characterizing the device's performance at a hazardous waste site. Long term applications of the technology include: workplace safety, food safety, pharmaceutical manufacture, and drinking water quality.