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Portable Sensor for Detecting Airborne Nanomaterials in an Operational Environment

Description:

OBJECTIVE: To design and develop a robust global positioning system (GPS) enabled, portable, and wearable sensor to evaluate key nanomaterial properties as a means of detection in an operational environment. DESCRIPTION: Man-made nanomaterials (NMs) are being applied in many technologies, and the health risks associated with unintentional exposure remains a foremost concern of their pervasive use [1]. Numerous studies have been conducted to address the toxicity of NMs, and while the data is not conclusive, key relationships have been developed relating specific physicochemical properties of NMs with their toxicity [2,3]. Airborne NMs in an operational environment are not detectable without sensitive aerosol monitoring instruments, and even dilute concentrations can be linked to unwanted health effects. Without a means to detect airborne NM exposure, there is a potentially hazardous delay in implementation of preventative exposure protocols. Currently employed, continuous monitoring sensors to detect NMs rely on light scattering or mass recognition [4,5]. However, relying solely on these techniques does not allow for detection of key NM properties, which are related to their potential toxic effects, including surface area, morphology, composition, and impurities. Wearable filters for collecting airborne NMs are also available, but they do not provide any real-time data. There is an urgent requirement for a wearable personal sensor with the integrated capability to detect airborne NM concentration as a function of size and surface area, with efficient filter collection for additional laboratory analysis of morphology, composition, impurities, and toxicity. The key phases of the project will include design of the principal concept for characterizing and collecting airborne NMs. The key requirements include the ability to (1) detect number concentration of NMs as a function of size, (2) measure surface area of particles, (3) capture NMs as a function of size and/or surface area on filters for further characterization, (4) record particle characterization, time, and location data that can be downloaded and displayed in a comprehensive manner. Incorporation of advanced features, including the ability to transmit data to a remote source in real-time will enhance the effectiveness of the wearable sensor. Additionally, convenience and aesthetics should be considered, as this is critical for proper and proficient use of the sensor. The impact of this technology is to enhance situational awareness for prevention of exposure and mitigation of potential health risks related to airborne NMs. This technology will be useful for military applications such as identification of potential human risk due to NM exposure and pinpointing the location of the contaminant. PHASE I: Design the concept and prototype for characterizing and collecting airborne NMs. The key requirements include the ability to (1) detect number concentration of NMs as a function of size, (2) measure surface area of particles counted, (3) capture NMs as a function of size on filters for further characterization. PHASE II: Field studies will be conducted to validate the prototype upon successful design and creation. Following prototype validation, develop a sensor incorporating (1) the ability to record particle characterization, time, and location data that can be downloaded into a program, and (2) the ability to transmit this data to a remote source in real-time. Additionally, design and integrate software in the sensor that, provides health risk information based on specific NM characteristics. PHASE III: Functional portable sensor that would allow for the ability to detect the size and surface area of NMs in the environment and capture particles for more complex laboratory analysis, as well as transmit collected data in real-time to a remote source. REFERENCES: 1. Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology, Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council. Strategy for Nanotechnology-related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research. February 2008. Available at: http://.nano.gov. 2. Hussain SM, Braydich-Stolle LK, Schrand AM, Murdock RC, Yu KO, Mattie DM, Schlager JJ, and Terrones M (2009) Toxicity Evaluation for Safe Use of Nanomaterials: Recent Achievements and Technical Challenges . Advanced Materials 21: p.p. 1549-1559. 3. Carlson C, Hussain SM, Schrand A, Braydich-Stolle L, Hess K, Jones R and Schlager J (2008) Unique cellular interaction of silver nanoparticles: size dependent generation of reactive oxygen species. J Phys Chem B 112, 13608-13619. 4. Wasisto HS, Uhde E, Waag A, Peiner E. Sensor monitors exposure to airborne nanoparticles. SPIE, doi: 10.1117/2.1201105.003685. 5. Son SY, Lee JY, Fu H, Anand S, Romay F, Collins A. Personal and wearable ultrafine particle counter. AAAR 30th Annual Conference, Abstract Number: 560, Last modified: April 4, 2011.
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