Salt Lake City company receives $100k to develop formaldehyde detection technology

EPA Awards $1.6 Million to Small Businesses to Support the Development of Environmental Technologies


Contact Information: Lisa McClain-Vanderpool (


(Denver, Colo. Sept. 19, 2017) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $1.6 million in funding for small businesses to develop technologies that will help protect human health and the environment by detecting chemicals in the air, ensuring cleaner water, and creating greener materials.

“EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research program is awarding funding to these small businesses because they have demonstrated the potential to create technologies that will improve our environment and our economy,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These technologies are focused on creating cutting-edge products that can help solve today’s complex environmental problems and enhance economic growth.”

These companies are receiving Phase I contracts from EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which awards contracts annually through a two-phase competition. Companies compete for a Phase I award of $100,000 by submitting research that addresses key environmental issues. After receiving a Phase I award, companies are eligible to compete for a Phase II award of $300,000 to further develop and commercialize the technology.

Vaporsens, Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah, was awarded the phase I contract for indoor formaldehyde detection by a low-cost chemical sensor based on organic nanofibers. Formaldehyde comes from a number of indoor sources and is carcinogenic.  Vaporsens organic nanofibers have been developed for a number of applications, including detecting explosives, narcotics, toxic industrial chemicals, and chemical warfare agents.  "Vaporsens is honored to receive this award from the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Doug Later, President/CEO,  Vaporsens. “We are eager to continue developing nanofiber chemical sensor solutions for formaldehyde that will contribute to the safety and health of humans and the environment."

Vaporsens Awarded EPA Phase I SBIR Grant


Vaporsens is honored to be awarded a Phase I SBIR research grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The research award will be used to continue the development of Vaporsens nanofiber chemical sensors for monitoring formaldehyde in indoor environments. Vaporsens is eager to develop sensors that will effectively mitigate the public health risk of pervasive formaldehyde exposure.

Here is additional information from the EPA regarding indoor formaldehyde exposure:

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature that has a strong odor.  Indoor exposure can result from formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products, building materials, insulation, glues, paints and coatings, permanent press fabrics, cosmetics, dishwashing liquids, gas stoves, kerosene heaters, and cigarette smoke. ( (link is external))

Exposure to formaldehyde can cause adverse health effects, including (at 0.1-0.5 ppm) nasal and eye irritation, neurological effects, and increased risk of asthma and/or allergy, and (at 0.6-1.9 ppm) eczema and changes in lung function.  ( (link is external))  Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen.  ( (link is external))

Exposure to formaldehyde can be reduced by opening windows, using fans to bring in outside air, and removing and/or avoiding products that are sources of formaldehyde emissions.  Having a low-cost formaldehyde sensor would enable people to know when mitigation measures are warranted and how effective they are.  As a result, EPA is seeking the development and commercialization of such sensors.