New faster technique to gauge health risk from chemicals

New faster technique to gauge health risk from chemicalsWashington, Dec 27 : Nearly 80,000 industrial chemicals are in use and about 700 new chemicals are introduced annually in the US, according to the US Government Accountability Office. A new technique is now being developed for faster assessment of health risks from these.

James Englehardt, professor in engineering at the University of Miami, is proposing a new technique that is more efficient than current methods, in assessing health risks from exposure to harmful substances.

The new technique reduces the data requirements 21-fold from the previous models and can predict the likelihood of illness not just from exposure to individual substances, but also from chemical mixtures, the journal Risk Analysis reports.

"The method we are proposing could be applied, for example, to drinking water containing chemical byproducts of chlorine disinfection; well water contaminated with chemicals spilled or released to the subsurface; polluted indoor or outdoor air; or food contaminated with pesticides or other chemicals," said Englehardt, according to a Miami statement.

In general, chemical contaminants do not occur individually, but rather in mixtures, and components of the mixtures can act to increase or reduce the health effects of other mixture components, explained Englehardt.

Englehardt is now overseeing work on a method to detect risk in drinking water in real time, directly from sensor data. That work is part of a current project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation.(IANS)