Technology to improve understanding of arsenic

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The Challenge
Tens of millions of people in the world (including about 60 million in South Asia and Southeast Asia) have dangerously high exposure to arsenic in their drinking water. Most of this arsenic is naturally occurring, while some is from industrial output.
Little is known about the concentrations of toxic arsenic metabolites in target tissues (including the urinary bladder and lung) which ultimately determine the development and outcomes of the diseases.
The Solution
  • Develop instrumentation and methodologies to analyze critical chemical forms of arsenic in target human tissues.
  • Validate the new methods using samples collected in laboratory and population studies.
  • The long-term goal of this research effort is to improve risk assessment and treatment of diseases associated with exposures to arsenic.
Results & Impact
  • Built a customized instrumentation to accelerate research beyond the reach of the existing analytical methods to help better understand toxic effects of environmental arsenic.
  • A new fully functional analytical laboratory was established at UNC, that is used by the team and by several research and clinical teams in and outside of UNC.
  • Methods were validated using biological samples examining chronic exposure and adverse effects of the exposure to chemical forms of arsenic.
  • Established new collaborations with analytical team with expertise in arsenic speciation analysis.
  • 15 peer-reviewed publications
Miroslav Styblo, PhD, is an associate professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a nationally recognized authority on biochemistry and toxicology of arsenic. His team combines experts in environmental health, medicine, biochemistry, toxicology and analytical chemistry of metals and metalloids.
Partners include: Institute of Analytical Chemistry (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic), U.S. EPA, Centro de Investigacion y de Estudios Avanzados del I.P.N. and Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango.
Last updated April 17, 2013