Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Optical Fiber-Based, Multianalyte Detection System for Simultaneous Screening of Endocrine Disruptors

EPA Contract Number: 68D00245
Title: Optical Fiber-Based, Multianalyte Detection System for Simultaneous Screening of Endocrine Disruptors
Investigators: Jones, Mark
Small Business: Luna Innovations Inc. , F and S Inc
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2000 through March 1, 2001
Project Amount: $69,953
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , SBIR - Monitoring , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


The Phase I objective is to address the current need for fast, highly sensitive, inexpensive instrumentation for simultaneous screening of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Wildlife studies vividly demonstrate that these chemicals have the power to sabotage fertility, corrode intelligence, undermine the immune system, alter behavior, and reduce reproduction capacity (Colborn, 1996). Considerable scientific uncertainty remains as to which chemicals may be involved, patterns of exposure, mechanisms of action in humans and wildlife, and the best way to test, predict, or screen for these effects (EPA, 1999). Also, it has been suggested that exposure to a combination of EDCs can cause a synergistic effect that magnifies the damage they can cause. There are at least 60 suspect EDCs that have been targeted for disrupting the endocrine system in one way or another, and tens of thousands more synthetic chemicals for which the effects are unknown (Keith, 1997). These critical EDCs include various types of pesticides, common metals, and organic industrial chemicals. The limited knowledge of the effects from exposure to these synthetic chemicals is in part due to flexible analytical tools, time, and cost required for analysis of such contaminants at low level (parts per trillion or below). New sensing techniques are needed that are flexible in design, efficiency, cost effectiveness, and sensitivity with few false positives to make connections among environmental contamination, unusual behavior in wildlife, and ill-health effects in humans. To support this need, F&S proposes to develop a miniaturized, user-friendly sensing platform for real-time detection of multiple synthetic chemicals that pose significant health risks by disrupting the endocrine system. The system will be based on optical fiber long period grating (LPG) sensors. The LPG sensing platform can be configured for highly sensitive target detection by applying unique affinity films that selectively capture chemical and biological targets generating a measurable response. The LPG sensors also can be inexpensively configured for multiplexed operation to allow multitarget screening of EDCs.

The development of the proposed optical fiber LPG-based chemical screening system will not only serve to advance the analytical instrumentation available to environmental scientists for EDC research, but also it will find widespread application in the multibillion dollar annual markets in food and environmental regulatory testing, as well as other medical and industrial applications.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, analytical, health risk, endocrine disruptors, engineering, chemistry, EPA., RFA, Health, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Sustainable Environment, Chemistry, Endocrine Disruptors - Environmental Exposure & Risk, endocrine disruptors, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Microbiology, Monitoring/Modeling, Children's Health, Biology, Engineering, Endocrine Disruptors - Human Health, health effects, real time, endocrine disrupting chemicals, environmental risks, pesticides, industrial chemicals, fiber optics, optical detectors, detection system, optical detection, sensor, sensors, sensor technology