LightDeck Diagnostics has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant funded by US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to build a rapid, portable, quantitative test to detect many Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) simultaneously for water safety.

PFAS chemicals cause a range of health problems: cancer, hormone disruption, liver and kidney toxicity, harm to the immune system, and reproductive and developmental toxicity, among others. However, PFAS chemicals are notoriously hard to detect due to their low molecular weight and the variety of different chemical structures.

“Our planar waveguide technology, which has already been configured to simultaneously detect two of the most common toxins generated by harmful algal blooms, is sufficiently sensitive to monitor PFAS chemicals,” says Nick Traggis, LightDeck CEO. “With this SBIR grant, we will further expand our water offerings and bolster the confidence of decision-makers when it comes to water safety and protection of our agriculture.”

LightDeck will develop the PFAS test for use with the existing LightDeck platform to improve water safety. It is expected to have a lower limit well below the actionable regulatory guidelines for these chemicals.

“This test will be used in agriculture, water utilities, and manufacturing industries to ensure the safety of the US water supply,” shared NIFA, in a summary of the grant’s objective.

The grant follows a grant awarded to the company in January. The Henry M. Jackson Foundation awarded LightDeck $2 million to develop a rapid, quantitative, multiplexed inflammatory marker panel aimed toward helping healthcare providers predict the hospitalization risk of patients.