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Your Environment. Your Health.

Biosensors for Environmental Monitoring

Superfund Research Program

Biosensors for Environmental Monitoring - Part One

 

 This was the first of two seminars on Biosensors for Environmental Monitoring sponsored by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Technology Innovation Program. Dr. Michael Denison and Shirley Gee from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) presented their work on the development of miniaturized, fast, sensitive bioassay systems for use in environmental research and monitoring at hazardous waste sites. Dr. Ian Kennedy, also from UC Davis, discussed his advances in nanotechnology and the use of MEMs (Micro Electro Mechanical system) fabrication techniques to make a micro-sized instrument for optical detection of trace amounts of chemicals in aqueous solutions.

 

One of the goals of Superfund Research Program is the development of methods and technologies to detect, assess and evaluate the effects of toxic substances on human health. Conducting the studies needed to obtain such information requires a staggering number of analyses. However, analytical costs often preclude running the number of samples required. To address the issue of high analysis costs for environmental monitoring and the need for markers of exposure and their analysis, these researchers have developed immunochemical methods of analysis and other integrated immunochemical techniques for monitoring toxic substances in humans and the environment. The advantages of immunoassay include sensitivity, selectivity, speed of analysis cost effectiveness and adaptability. They can be used to monitor individual chemicals, metabolites or bound species. Immunoassay is not a replacement for Gas Chromatography (GC) or high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), but is an important tool for the analytical chemist and can provide a cost-effective alternative.

 

Biosensors for Environmental Monitoring - Part Two

 

One of the goals of Superfund Research Program is the development of methods and technologies to detect, assess and evaluate the effects of toxic substances on human health. This is the second of two seminars on Biosensors for Environmental Monitoring sponsored by the NIEHS Superfund Research Program and the EPA Technology Innovation Program. Dr. Patrick Larkin of EcoArray, Inc. described their work to develop gene chips, as well as related products, for several key wildlife models of interest to the EPA and other governmental agencies as sentinel species for research and risk assessment. He described experiments using gene chips in fathead minnows, sheepshead minnows, and largemouth bass to illustrate the use of these powerful tools. In addition, Dr. Elwood Linney of Duke University presented his work on the zebrafish model and placed it within the context of mammalian models that are used to investigate the effects of environmental toxicants. Considerable technology has developed around this vertebrate model and it is best viewed as a model that can complement studies with rodent models. Some advantages of this model include its embryonic development outside of the mother, the visibility of its organs as they develop, and the relative small size of the embryos as its develop so that a variety of microscopic techniques can be used to visualize events.

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