Particle Induced Gamma-ray Emission as a Rapid Detection Technique for Perfluorinated Compounds

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Graham Peaslee and Dr. Paul DeYoung

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Recent studies have shown that perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), a broad class of chemicals used as powerful, long-lived surfactants in consumer products, are associated with human health hazards. Because of the environmental persistence of PFCs, their ability to bioaccumulate, and their suspected human toxicity, new methods to identify these chemicals in consumer products are needed. Current detection techniques include liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), a costly procedure in both time and resources. Particle induced gamma-ray emission (PIGE) is an established ion beam analysis technique that has been used to quantitatively measure light elements in diverse target materials. PIGE utilizes a beam of accelerated protons to excite 19F nuclei in a target. As these nuclei return to their ground state, they emit characteristic gamma-rays that can be used to quantify the fluorine concentration in a sample. In this study, an in-air PIGE methodology has been established as an effective tool to determine the presence or absence of PFCs used as coatings in consumer products including papers, carpets, and textiles. The two goals of this project are to (1) establish PIGE as an effective technique for PFC analysis and (2) disseminate this technique with other laboratories to make cheap and efficient analysis of PFCs in consumer goods and the environment.


This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. NSF-RUI 1306074), the Department of Energy (Grant No. DE-FOA-000448), and the Hope College Department of Physics Guess Research Fund.

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