Oil spills can cause tremendous environmental damage and are a serious threat to public health. Petroleum contains many toxic compounds, including polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some PAH compounds are highly carcinogenic and cause DNA mutations in humans. When petroleum is spilled into the sea, PAH compounds rapidly spread through the marine environment and eventually accumulate in marine life and threaten our seafood supply. The FDA has mandated that petroleum-contaminated seafood is unfit for human consumption and should not be harvested or sold. Therefore, after an oil spill, careful monitoring is needed to assess the extent of the contaminated areas, ensure that seafood supplies are free of PAH compounds and monitor the return of affected areas to a normal state to allow re-opening of closed areas. Unfortunately, despite this critical need, the most currently used screening method is somewhat inaccurate and unreliable for the detection of potentially hazardous levels of PAH compounds in seafood. New alternative testing methods are sorely needed. In Phase I, we created a rapid enzyme-based assay to detect PAH compounds. Our method is much simpler, faster and more convenient than current test methods. The superior attributes of our assay give it the potential to revolutionize seafood PAH testing. In Phase II we will optimize and commercially develop the assay to produce a reliable and rugged test kit. To enable dockside testing and eliminate the use of toxic organic solvents, we will create a novel detergent-based method to process seafood samples. Next, we will scale-up manufacturing of our proprietary enzyme reagents to meet market needs. Lastly, to gain customer acceptance, we will validate our enzymatic assay against the accepted NOAA test method. Our test kit will provide seafood producers and government agencies such as the FDA and NOAA with a much-needed cost-effective, reliable and sensitive tool to detect petroleum in seafood after oil spills.

Public Health Relevance

Oil spills are major threats to public health and the environment. Petroleum contains many toxic and carcinogenic substances;these substances can contaminate seafood near oil spill sites. It is important to test for toxic oil substances in seafood after an oil spill, but current methods are not adequate for thorough testing. In Phase I we created a novel enzyme-based test for the rapid detection of petroleum in seafood. In Phase II we will develop this assay to create a reliable commercial test kit. The improvements to our testing capacity provided by our new method will greatly assist the FDA to ensure the safety of our Nation's seafood supply.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Bioo Scientific Corporation
United States
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