Bioscience

UA lab to check for toxic ‘needles in haystack’

January 21, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Tucson Citizen, Alan Fischer] – A lab to study environmental contaminants potentially toxic to human health opened Wednesday at the University of Arizona.

The Arizona Laboratory for Emerging Contaminants, known as ALEC, uses super-sensitive instruments to test water, soil and tissue for minute amounts of substances such as uranium, heavy metals and organic compounds, including pharmaceuticals, said Jon Chorover, co-director of the lab.

“We’re looking at what individuals are being exposed to in their environment,” Chorover said.

“Most other equipment doesn’t have the sensitivity to go to the very low levels these compounds exist at in natural waters,” he said. “We take samples and find the needles in a haystack.”

Planned research includes determining how contaminants move in the environment, Chorover said.

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