Rapid Indicator for Pollution

EPA Contract Number: EPD07046
Title: Rapid Indicator for Pollution
Investigators: Bright, Kelly R.
Small Business: CEDAR Systems
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2007 through August 31, 2007
Project Amount: $69,997
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2007) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Water and Wastewater , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


CEDAR Systems responds to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s need for an inexpensive, convenient, and rapid analytical method for the detection of pollution indicators such as Escherichia coli and enterococci in beach and other recreational waters with a means of identifying risk before exposure has taken place. Currently available tests are far from ideal in that they all require significant incubation periods to achieve a test result (i.e., 18+ hours), the methodologies are lengthy and labor intensive, and they require trained personnel and specialized equipment. We propose to develop a new Rapid Indicator for Pollution (RIPTM) System that detects the presence of E. coli and enterococci in approximately 2 hours or less with detection limits at or below the EPA guidelines for recreational waters. Our approach is extremely low risk because it utilizes reagents that are already established and are in everyday use. The RIPTM System detects bacterial enzymes in a very specific reaction, generating unambiguous, easy-to-read results. Thus, the test should have extremely low false positive and false negative results.

The key innovation in the RIPTM System is the inclusion of a microbial concentration step utilizing a surface-modified, positively charged, high-capacity adsorbent. Large volumes of water (e.g., 10 liters) may be passed through a small amount of adsorbent at very high flow rates (e.g., 5 to 30 liters per minute). The enzymes β-D-glucuronidase (E. coli) and β-D-glucosidase (enterococci) are detected by the presence of a fluorogenic end product (4-methyl-umbelliferone) that can be measured using a UV light/fluorometer. Following the concentration step, the microbial population and associated enzyme levels are high enough to yield a rapid fluorescence readily observable to the operator after a short incubation period. Preliminary work performed with these specially treated adsorbents demonstrated high removal efficiencies (> 99.999%) using a wide variety of water qualities.

CEDAR Systems plans to license the RIP™ System to existing water treatment companies as part of our commercialization plan. Members of our team have established relationships with several such companies. Two additional markets that we would target include public beaches as well as owners of commercial pools and spas (i.e., hotels, country clubs, and health clubs). In these large markets, there are significant benefits offered by our approach: (l) greater safety to bathers because a rapid degradation of water quality can be quickly detected; and (2) the rapid opening of recreational waters for the enjoyment of bathers.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, EPA, RIP™ System, detection of pollution indicators, enterococci, E. coli, beaches, recreational waters, water treatment,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Environmental Monitoring, Recreational Water, Microorganisms, recreational water monitoring, bacteria, E. coli, recreational beaches, aquatic environments, water quality criteria

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report