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For Rapid, In-Field Testing of Oil in Coastal Areas

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As part of the rapid response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the ERDC Environmental Laboratory’s Environmental Chemistry Branch located in Vicksburg, Miss. developed the Oil Spill Test Kit, a rapid screening method to test for the presence or absence of oil in water and sediment samples from coastal areas.

Rapid, In-Field Testing

The Oil Spill Test Kit allows the user in the field to rapidly screen for the presence of oil in water and sediment samples and determine the need for further testing in near real-time.

The oil screening method is based on laboratory oil extraction methods and the comparison of extracts to known standards and fluorescence detection.  When Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, a component of oil, are exposed to UV light, they emit visible light whose brightness corresponds to the concentration of PAHs present in the sample. This allows a user to determine a concentration range for samples through visual comparison to known standards.

Easy to Access, Easy to Use

The Oil Spill Test Kit is easy to use and requires no special training or a scientific background. Priced at $250 per kit, it is a great alternative to more expensive in-lab testing services.

Success Stories

The initial kit was developed in 2008 and deployed to active dredges on the lower Mississippi river for real time analysis of dredged material by personnel in the field.  The refined kit, developed in 2010, was deployed to MVN and SAM personnel for immediate response capabilities in the aftermath of the DWH oil spill.


Oil Spill Test Kit

  • 8 Wooden Spatulas
  • Vials for Test
  • Soil Measuring Device
  • Comparison Solutions
  • UV Fluorometer
    • UV Fluorometer Box
    • UV Flashlight
    • ICx Griffin 400-450 Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GS-MS) for quantitative, near real-time analysis of organic compounds.

ERDC Points of Contact

Questions about Oil Spill Test Kit?

Contact: Anthony Bednar

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