High speed testing for toxins in chemicals by new robot

By Lucy Brake - 15 Mar 2011 8:31:0 GMT
High speed testing for toxins in chemicals by new robot

The high speed robot screening system is a part of Tox21, a collaboration of U.S. federal agencies working on improving chemical testing in America with the ultimate goal of improving people's health.

The assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Research and Development, Paul Anastas said ''understanding the molecular basis of hazard is fundamental to the protection of people's health and the environment. Tox21 allows us to obtain deeper understanding and more powerful insights, faster than ever before''.

Toxins in chemicals have been linked with adverse health effects from disruptions to the processes taking place inside the human body. The main purpose of the robot is therefore to understand and develop more effective ways to be able to predict how chemicals are impacting on human health as well as the environment

Many of the chemicals the new robot is capable of testing are found in both industrial and consumer products, including food additives and pharmaceuticals. The hope is that the robot will provide much faster results to give government departments information that can be used to evaluate the potential each chemical has to impact upon the human body. The new robot is able to test in one single day the same amount of toxicology it would take one person an entire year to do.

The robot system is being housed at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) and is jointing owned by the U.S. EPA, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program, the NCGC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010.

The Director of the National Toxicology Program, Linda Birnbaum said ''the addition of this new robot system will allow the National Toxicology Program to advance its mission of testing chemicals smarter, better and faster''. This means they will have faster access to better information about the possible dangers of chemicals to the decision-makers in the health industry so that human health can be better protected.

This innovative robot should be able to help assure us of the toxicity levels found in the chemicals that are key ingredients in many of the products we use every day.