This is the first of two seminars on Biosensors for Environmental Monitoring sponsored by the NIEHS Superfund Basic Research Program and the EPA Technology Innovation Program. Dr. Michael Denison and Shirley Gee from the University of California-Davis will present their work in 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, will discuss 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 Basic 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 GC or HPLC, but is an important tool for the analytical chemist and can provide a cost-effective alternative.