Press Releases

Picarro Funded by EPA to Develop Toxic Pollutant Monitor

U.S. EPA funds development of a field-instrument to measure acrolein

Sunnyvale, CA, Feb. 6, 2006 - Picarro, Inc., a manufacturer of high performance lasers and laser-based instruments, announced that it has been awarded a Phase I SBIR contract by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop instrumentation for source and ambient detection of acrolein. The instrument to be developed under this award will be based on Picarro's patented Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy (CRDS) and could help researchers better understand the human health and environmental impact of acrolein exposure.

Acrolein is a ubiquitous pollutant used chemically as an herbicide and released into the atmosphere during combustion processes such as from burning vegetation (e.g. forest fires), waste incinerators, furnaces, fireplaces, gasoline- and diesel-engine emissions, power plants, cigarette smoke, and even the cooking of food. It is a highly toxic pollutant that can cause respiratory irritation from exposure to 90 part-per-billion (ppb) concentration levels and can be lethal above 150 parts-per-million (ppm). It is listed by the EPA as a Hazardous Air Pollutant, defined by the Federal Clean Air Act as being a threat or risk of cancer or other serious adverse health affects.

By adapting its patented Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy, Picarro intends to develop a highly sensitive, continuous monitor capable of automatically measuring acrolein in field deployments at part-per-billion levels. Current methods for acrolein measurement in ambient air are complex and error prone and prohibit the continuous collection of concentration data.

"We are delighted to be working with the EPA on this project", stated Dr. Eric Crosson, Chief Technology Officer at Picarro. "We believe our Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy technology is uniquely suited to performing the acrolein measurements required for researchers to fully understand the health and environmental impact of this toxic pollutant." Activities under this award are expected to begin in March and continue through August and include building a CRDS instrument that operates in a suitable wavelength region, identifying specific acrolein absorption peaks to be measured, and characterizing the effect on acrolein measurement of atmospheric interferents such as H2O, CO2, and CO.

Picarro has applied its CRDS technology to make ultra-sensitive measurements of a variety of other gases including CO2 and isotopic CO2, H2O and isotopic H2O, NH3, and H2S. For more information, visit the Picarro booth at IFPAC from Feb 20-23 in Arlington, VA and PITTCON from Mar 12-17 in Orlando, FL.