Final Report: Disposable Test Strips for Ultra-Sensitive QuantificationofPolyfluoroalkyl Substances in Ground Water

EPA Contract Number: 68HERD19C0009
Title: Disposable Test Strips for Ultra-Sensitive QuantificationofPolyfluoroalkyl Substances in Ground Water
Investigators: France, C. Brian
Small Business: TDA Research Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: May 1, 2019 through October 31, 2019
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) PHASE I (2018) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): Phase 1 (2019) , SBIR - Water Quality , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Current test methods to quantify low levels of PFOS/PFOA in water are time consuming and expensive. The goal of this project is to develop a disposable test strip that enables testing (and ultimately field-testing capability) to monitor groundwater that is or could be contaminated with PFAAs, such as PFOA and PFOS. During this effort, an organometallic complex was developed to ion-exchange and accumulate anions such as PFOS and PFOA. Once concentrated, the PFAA compounds can be quantified with relatively inexpensive and fieldable equipment. The goal of this effort was the demonstration of the organometallic complex, ion-exchange performance, and ultimate PFOS analysis; producing a calibration curve with a detection of 70 parts-per-trillion (ppt) or less of PFOA and PFOS in water.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

During this project, the organometallic compounds were synthesized and characterized. The organometallic compounds were used to accumulate PFOS from water through an ion-exchange process. Quantification of 50ng of PFOS was achieved. A developmental calibration curve was established with a limit of detection below 50 ng of PFOS. Fifty nanograms of PFOS collected from one-liter of water would represent 50 ppt, thus demonstrating the feasibility of this approach to achieve the desired sensitivity.Preliminary test strip analysis methodology was developed to extract PFOS from a oneliter water, that testing showed promising signal at 100ppt. Based on these promising results, additional testing optimization and protocol development is underway.


The market for PFAS detection and remediation is fragmented, emerging, and large. Overall, there is a significant opportunity for new solutions with the right value proposition at decent price points, and interest is high for such solutions in many sectors. Technically, a rapid detection solution must be accurate, reliable, and quantify a broad spectrum of PFAS species at very high sensitivity in heterogenous samples. Several top global environmental engineering consulting firms contacted for this report are interested and eager to hear about new solutions. One apparent commercialization strategy may be to partner with one or more of these firms for development, validation, and distribution of the subject technology, and gain introductions to equipment companies who may buy units and rent them to environmental engineering consulting firms.