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Your Environment. Your Health.

Progress Reports: Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Developing In Situ, Real-time Sensors for Toxicants at Superfund Sites, to Protect Public Health and Optimize Cleanup

Superfund Research Program

Developing In Situ, Real-time Sensors for Toxicants at Superfund Sites, to Protect Public Health and Optimize Cleanup

Project Leader: Harold F. Hemond
Co-Investigator: Timothy M. Swager
Grant Number: P42ES027707
Funding Period: 2017-2022
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Progress Reports

Year:   2018  2017 

The goal of the Developing In Situ, Real-time Sensors for Toxicants at Superfund sites, to Protect Public Health and Optimize Cleanup Project is mitigating chemical risks to the public from Superfund and similar contaminated sites. This requires the identification of chemical toxicants in the environment, followed by determination of the location of toxicants’ sources, and measurement of their environmental movements. The first goal of this project is to enable the above public-health-protective steps to be taken in a more cost-effective and timely manner by creating new chemical microsensors that combine low cost, portability, and specificity. The sensors will greatly reduce the cost of identifying and measuring chemical hazards in the environment, and be an asset to environmental and public health professionals, as well as to citizen scientists who want to better understand chemical risks in their environment. Because chemically contaminated rivers and other natural waters often contain toxicants in their sediments, a second goal of this project is to create a new tool, namely a sediment-to-water flux sensor, that can measure whether, and how fast, toxicants are released to the water from contaminated sediments. Chemicals that are found to be entering water that people drink or contact recreationally are of more immediate priority than chemicals that are permanently immobilized in sediment and away from human contact. Work during the past year has led to several promising new microsensors, as well as an experimental prototype for a practical sensor, to measure chemical fluxes from sediments into natural waters. Ultimately, the activities for this project will inform cleanup of the Olin Chemical and the Former Loring Air Force Base, and raise awareness about contaminants relevant to health.

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