The current approach of identifying and analyzing harmful chemicals in water is not working

Presently, the only way for someone to identify organic chemical pollutants in their private well, nearby river or lake is by sending water samples for expensive lab testing costing over $200/sample. There are no low cost (<$20/test) screening level test kits available for homeowners to use themselves with limits of detection (LOD) comparable to lab methods; however, law enforcement widely uses such test kits for narcotics/explosive detection. Our ChemPrint platform is being designed to provide such a screening test for organic chemical pollutants.

Public trust in drinking water is eroding

According to a recent Gallup poll, more Americans are worried about water pollution than they have been since 2001. There are now over 900 chemicals consistently being found in drinking water and US EPA and USGS studies indicate that about one fifth of US population has elevated levels of these contaminants in their drinking water. US Federal regulations require large public drinking water utilities to test for about 120 chemicals, however this excludes many dozens of harmful chemicals such as PFASs which scientists believe should be regularly tested like in European countries. About 43 million Americans are dependent on private wells for drinking water which aren’t being tested by any local, state or federal agencies since they are exempted from oversight by federal regulations.

What if there is simple and quick home test kit which provides a comprehensive fingerprint of all harmful chemicals in drinking water ?

 

We are developing a SPE-TLC-SERS based screening level test, costing about $20/sample, which can be used to determine:

 

Traditional pesticides such as atrazine (triazine class), Cypermethrin (pyrethroid class), Alachlor (chloroacetanilide class), chlorpyrifos (organophosphate class), diuron (phenylurea class)

 

Newer neonicotinoid pesticides like Imidacloprid, implicated in bee colony collapse disorder, and recently found in trace levels in drinking water.
Pharmaceuticals (ibuprofen), plasticizer (diethyl phthalate), cyanotoxins (microcystin-LR), industrial chemicals (PFOS)

These 10 chemicals are representative of for over 900 chemicals commonly found in water so that we can apply statistical models (USGS’s WARP variants) to predict the probability of occurrence of other structurally and functionally related chemicals in the given water sample.

 

Our currently in development open source ACH ChemPrint platform is about the size of a humidifier and designed for use at a home owner’s faucet, or a nearby river or a lake without creating any hazardous waste

AnalyzeChemicals ChemPrint Home-based Screening Level Test Platform

 

(1) Extracts chemicals of interest using commercially available solid phase extraction (SPE) disks.
(2) Separates these chemicals on an ultra-thin layer chromatography plates (TLC) which is made up of aluminum foil coated with silica particles.

(3) Analyzes the separated chemicals by taking a picture of the UTLC plate under UV light and using the rTLC software to analyze it on the smartphone itself.

AnalyzeChemicals Fully Automated ChemPrint Confirmatory Test Platform (In Development)

Portable Raman Spectometer

Source: Link

Modified inkjet printer to spot and develop the plates

Reference (Morlock, Gertrud E., et al. “Miniaturized planar chromatography using office peripherals.” Analytical chemistry 82.7 (2010): 2940-2946.)

Confirmatory analysis using SERS

Reference: Chen et. al (2012)

Possible applications are endless…

You can test if you nearby river, lake, spring or your private well contains any harmful chemicals
You can use this test to compare your favorite bottled water brand with your tap water. Maybe your tap water contains less chemicals than expensive bottled water?
Test if the household filters such as Brita or Pur are effectively removing organic pollutants
If you are a biohacker, you can use our platform for detection of biomarkers (Reference).

Wash fruits and vegetables and use the water to estimate the amount of pesticide residue. This is a good way to compare regular produce to organically grown

 

Test for chemicals present in orange juice, milk etc. Maybe your favorite brand has higher level of antibiotics, pesticide residue etc. than the recommended limits

Apart from our core application of testing water, ACH ChemPrint kits can be used at biohacker spaces, high school science fairs, undergraduate teaching labs, soil testing etc.

 

…But we need your help!

 

Please consider supporting our upcoming crowdfunding campaign to partially fund the cost of hands-on workshops for analyzing water samples from rivers, lakes, private wells etc. using ChemPrint platform. Also share our page on facebook or twitter.

  • We need citizen scientists who can help us validate key aspects of our technologies by participating in a hands-on workshop at University of Georgia labs to test water samples using ChemPrint protocols.
  • You can also participate by sending water samples for analysis at the workshop.
  • Any citizen scientist who significantly contributes with major aspect of the project will get an opportunity to be co-authors on publications resulting from this study. Please refer to FAQs for more details.
  • Please let us know in the signup sheet in case you live in a rural areas, rely on private wells for drinking water, and have a septic tank on the property.

 

Please enroll here

Team

Jay M. Patel, Co-Principal Investigator: Jay graduated with B.tech in chemical engineering from Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India and M.S. (chemistry) from University of Georgia and works on AnalyzeChemicals.com’s ChemPrint in his personal capacity. He is an ORISE fellow at National Exposure Research Laboratory of the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). He began his career in green chemistry about ten years ago on developing environmental friendly chemical manufacturing techniques using biocatalysts, with water as reaction media instead of harmful organic solvents. Later, he started working at US EPA on a Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) funded project to create risk assessment tools for estimating the vulnerability of aquifers and surface waters due to new and proposed energetic materials (aka explosives) and their potential transformation products. He plays an active role in standards development at American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) by being an official voting member on ASTM Committee E13 on Molecular Spectroscopy and Separation Science, ASTM Subcommittee D19.06 on Methods for Analysis for Organic Substances in Water, and ASTM Subcommittee E55.01 Process Understanding and PAT System Management, Implementation and Practice. Linkedin, Google scholar, Email:patel.jay@analyzechemicals.com jaypatel@uga.edu

Prof. R.S. Phillips, Principal Investigator: Robert graduated with a Ph.D in bio-organic chemistry from Georgia Tech, Atlanta GA and after a postdoctoral appointment at NIADDKD, NIH, Bethasda, MD, he came to University of Georgia in 1985 as assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. He was promoted to associate professorship in 1991 and a full professor in 1996. He has published over 198 papers and six patents since 1979 and has been a visiting professor at University of Verona, Italy; University of Cergy-Pontoise and University of Montpellier, France; Ben-Gurion University, Israel. Email: plp@uga.edu

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