Inorganic Chemistry

JESSICA ELLIOTT: jessica-elliott@uiowa.edu
BRIAN WELS: brian-wels@uiowa.edu

The laboratory continued development and implementation of a processed food testing program in coordination with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals.

Inorganic elements are minerals and metals found in the environment, some of which are harmful to human and animal health, even with minimal exposure. Some inorganic compounds occur naturally in the environment, such as metals found in soil and rock, while others are present due to human activities, such as crop fertilization or the use of lead in paint prior to 1978. Detection of these elements is important because mitigation techniques can then be implemented to reduce potentially dangerous exposure.

Testing is conducted for state agencies, public water supplies, county public health departments, businesses and private citizens. The Inorganic Chemistry section can determine the presence of inorganic elements in air, groundwater, drinking water, surface water, wastewater, soil, sludge, vegetation and food. Tests conducted on these matrices can determine the presence of arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead and many other metals in the environment. Samples from public and private (well) water supplies are analyzed for levels of nitrate, nitrite, total coliform and E.coli bacteria. Testing for lead in dust, paint, soil, pottery and food products is performed to help identify sources of lead exposure.

Inorganic Chemistry processes samples with short holding times (within 48 hours of collection) to determine the presence and levels of orthophosphate, nitrite and nitrate. Determination of levels of oil and grease in waste streams is determined at the Coralville laboratory.

Other Units in Environmental Health

The Office of the Director consists of 10 key functional units that enable the State Hygienic Laboratory to achieve its statutory charge set forth in the Iowa Administrative Code.

The primary mission of the Disease Control Division is to test human specimens, food and water for diseases of public health significance to protect the citizens of Iowa.

The Environmental Health Division monitors drinking water, wastewater, air, soil and food for contaminants of potential environmental and public health concern.

The Division of Administration and Finance is responsible for the management of the business practices, all Hygienic Laboratory facilities, and pre/post testing support.