Acute pesticide poisoning remains a vast health problem in the developed and developing world. Domestically, a 2004 study estimates that 18 of every 100,000 US agricultural workers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning. On top of that, long time effects have also been observed with an increased risk for lymphomas and prostate, brain, leukemia, cervix and stomach cancers. Since pesticides are primarily applied by sprayers or aerially from planes, where spray drift can translate pesticides far from their targeted areas, widespread monitoring of pesticide concentration at the site of use and in surrounding areas would be of great interest in order to protect people working in the fields as well as general public from dangerous levels of exposure. Current monitoring strategies are too slow and costly to do this on a widespread scale. Preliminary results for phase I show that our colorimetric sensor array technology can detect organophosphate pesticides in the low ppb level concentrations even in the presence of xylene, the most commonly used solvent for pesticide formulation. These encouraging results lead us to expand our study into Phase II where we propose to expand our library of pesticide tested, going beyond organophosphate pesticides. We also propose to develop two products to address the needs of pesticide exposure monitoring: on one side, a pesticide sensor badge that can be worn by farm workers to monitor their exposure to pesticide, on the other side, a pesticide solar powered station that can be located in nearby fields to monitor pesticide drift or could be even placed on nearby communities, such as schools. If successful, iSense technology could drastically reduce dangerous pesticide exposure and improve medical treatment by simultaneously identifying the pesticides responsible for pesticide poisoning.
The proposed project will expand development and testing of colorimetric based sensor technology for detection and identification of pesticides. The proposal will yield a prototype sensor badge and monitoring station that will be tested in field studies to detect hazardous pesticide concentrations in the air within farm fields and surrounding areas. Ultimately these designs would improve the health and safety of agricultural communities.