The Ever Changing Scope of Laboratory Testing

Laboratory testing is often thought of, in popular culture, as a simple and straightforward process. The popularity of crime dramas like CSI has proliferated the idea that sample testing simply involves adding a pinch of a sample to a machine and, with the press of a button, out pops an answer! We are sure many analysts wish it was just that easy!

While it is true that with the evolution of analytical instrumentation it is now possible to see a greater variety of compounds at very low concentrations, the reality of analytical testing and laboratory processes is often far from a one button answer. More often than not, laboratories are challenged with highly regulated and difficult sample preparation, extraction and testing procedures, covering a wide variety of sample types – ranging from agricultural to zoological specimens and beyond. And now, at SPEX, we count ourselves very lucky to have a front row seat to witness the birth, growth and regulation of a brand new industry around a brand new sample type.

By legalizing marijuana, recent legislation has opened up a new agricultural and testing industry around Cannabis. However, its federal status as a Class I drug has prevented federal regulating bodies from issuing recommendations and testing methods, leaving local testing laboratories at the forefront of testing regulation and legislation. The science and state regulatory communities are now working together to define the roles and targets for testing in this new industry, as well as, redefine global strategies for testing harmonization worldwide.

Below, we will take a look at a range of testing questions; from new analytical fields to well established industries which are being more tightly controlled and refined. This issue will examine new research being conducted in the analytical field, and take a fresh look at some well explored areas that are gaining new attention in the research world.

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