Fluorescent reagents based on conjugate polymers have proven useful for inexpensive and field-portable detection of nanogram to femtogram levels of nitroaromatic explosives, which have been commercialized. Conjugated polymers are advantageous in such sensing applications, because delocalization of their excited state exciton along the polymer chain provides sensor amplification and remarkable sensitivity. This technology will be adapted to design tests for separating and detecting toxicants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, found at Superfund sites. Fluorescent polymer reagents will be end-functionalized so they can be covalently anchored to chromatographic supports in order to permit separation of mixtures. This new technology will be developed with the aim of an inexpensive kit for the rapid simultaneous separation and identification of polycyclic aromatic organic Superfund toxicants that exhibit carcinogenic and/or endocrine disrupting properties. New fluorometric reagents will also be developed to separate and identify arsenate, cadmium(ll), lead(ll), mercury(ll), and chromium(VI), which are common Superfund inorganic toxicants found in contaminated sites. Special emphasis in the proposed work centers on specific toxicants that are being examined by other investigators in the center. The most promising analyses will be multiplexed on larger chromatographic substrates for quantification using microplate imaging methods. New fluorescent reagents developed for these tests are promising in other center applications, such as visualizing and localizing toxicants within whole organisms and cells. Thin-layer-chromatographic fluorescent assays that are low cost and readily portable could also be adapted to other applications, such as screening for hyperaccumulating plants, which are being examined in the UCSD center and are interesting because of their potential in remediation of arsenic soil contamination.

Public Health Relevance

The development of new technology that could be adapted for use in an inexpensive mobile kit for the detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, PCBs and PBBs, as well as the inorganic toxicants arsenic( /), chromium(Vl), lead(ll), cadmium(ll), and Hg(ll) encompass key classes of organic and inorganic Superfund toxicants known to pose cancer or endocrine disruption risks.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
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University of California San Diego
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