Inexpensive Colorimetric Sensor for Formaldehyde

EPA Contract Number: EPD17030
Title: Inexpensive Colorimetric Sensor for Formaldehyde
Investigators: Maruniak, Autumn
Small Business: iSense, LLC
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2017) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Air and Climate


This Phase I proposal describes the development an inexpensive, portable optical sensor to monitor indoor formaldehyde levels. The proposed instrument will be capable of detecting 0.05-5 ppm levels of formaldehyde in the presence of common interferents. Formaldehyde is used in manufacturing and is present in many building materials. There are significant health risks associated with even low levels of outgassed formaldehyde, including eye, skin, and respiratory irritation. It is also classified as a probable human carcinogen at high or prolonged exposure. Commercially available real-time formaldehyde sensors work well in environments contaminated only with formaldehyde, but are plagued by lack of accuracy and drift-prone readings in environments with interfering elements such as water vapor and polar VOCs. iSense, LLC has developed a novel sensor technology based on array of colorimetric indicators that can detect various toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) across multiple chemical moieties below their permissible exposure limit. The technology is rapid, inexpensive and capable of distinguishing between TICS as well as complex mixtures of compounds. We propose to test, improve and optimize this technology toward the detection and identification of formaldehyde. If successful, iSense technology will provide a means to alert users to unsafe levels of formaldehyde in their environment.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report