Low-cost Robust Detection of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons in Aqueous Environments

NIEHS Grant: R43ES029868

John Cowart, Ph.D.

The presence of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in aquatic environments poses hazards for wildlife and human health including cancer. PAHs enter waterways and coastal areas as a result of chemical spills, oils spills, underwater drilling, and weather events and natural disasters that lead to industrial run-off and spills. Researchers are developing a new low-cost sensitive detection device that measures PAH concentrations in real time while immersed in water. Their novel detection device uses newly developed materials that bind PAHs, and a proprietary sensor device engineered at Seacoast Science. The researchers are testing the sensitivity and specificity of the PAH-binding materials in simulated and natural ocean water samples. The device will improve PAH clean-up activities, ensuring that the public is kept safe from the toxic compounds in recreational and commercial waterways.