Simple and Inexpensive Paper-Based Assay for Lead

Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA

Elizabethtown College, Elizabethtown, PA team photo
Our EPA P3 project at Elizabethtown College is focused on the development of a new method for testing for lead in drinking water. Our lateral flow assay design incorporates nanoparticles to produce a simple to use and easy to interpret test.

PI: Lauren Toote, Co-PI: Brenda Read-Daily lead the project. The student team consists of several undergraduate chemistry and engineering students, who are highly motivated and passionate about helping the environment.

EPA P3 Video Presentation

Poster (click to open a full size image): 
Simple and Inexpensive Paper-Based Assay for Lead poster

There are 6.1 million lead service lines in United States and this fact leaves many Americans in a precarious situation, as slight changes in the properties of their water, such as pH, could result in the leaching of lead into their tap water. Unfortunately, current technologies for lead detection are expensive and require trained personnel. To address this issue, we propose a simple and inexpensive paper test for lead(II) in tap water, where polymer nanoparticles, which encapsulate a molecular probe that has a colorimetric response to lead(II), will be anchored at the test line of a lateral flow assay (LFA). As a tap water sample flows down this paper strip, if lead(II) in present, a signal will result from the interaction of the lead(II) ions with the molecular probe. The test will result in a signal that can be visually observed and interpreted by the user, giving communities which fall victim to contaminated water the opportunity to test their water and have control over their health.