Opening Up Environmental Analysis
How microfluidic paper analytical devices will make testing for the presence of toxic chemicals in air or water as simple, ubiquitous and inexpensive as measuring the temperature.
David Cate, John Volckens, Chuck Henry |
Airborne particulate matter (PM) is dangerous to humans, and represents a significant source of exposure because of its ubiquity and chemical complexity. Tens of thousands of compounds ranging from relatively harmless (for example, Cl- and Na+) to toxic (for example, polyaromatic hydrocarbons) have been identified in PM studies. Airborne metals (for example, copper, chromium, and nickel) are also common in PM and are consistently identified as contributing factors to daily morbidity and mortality. Yet, despite the relatively high rates of such diseases, our inefficient paradigm for assessing exposure has remained relatively unchanged for the past 25 years. We still do not fully understand, mechanistically, how PM (and its chemical constituents) adversely affects the body, nor do we understand which of the thousands of sources of PM should be targeted for reduction to improve health.
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