Researchers have created a new way to detect ‘forever chemical’ pollution in water, via a luminescent sensor. Scientists in Chemistry and Environmental Science at the University of Birmingham in collaboration with scientists from the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM), Germany’s Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, have developed a new approach for detecting pollution from ‘forever chemicals’ in water through luminescence.

The researchers, who have published their findings in Analytical Chemistry, have created a prototype model which detects the ‘forever chemical’ perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The approach uses luminescent metal complexes attached to a sensor surface. If the device is dipped in contaminated water, it detects PFOA by changes in the luminescence signal given off by the metals.

“So far, the sensor has been able to detect 220 micrograms of PFAS per liter of water, which works for industrial wastewater, but for drinking water, we would need the approach to be much more sensitive and be able to detect nanogram levels of PFAS.”


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