On March 10, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially launched a robust new tool for screening chemicals for health and environmental hazards. It’s a robot called the Tox21 Robotic Testing System, or “ToRTS” for readers preferring acronyms. Robots have been used previously for chemical testing, but ToRTs appears to be one of the bigger systems. EPA says it will use the robot to test 10,000 different chemicals for potential toxicity. A video of the robot is available here.
ToRTS is located at the National Institutes for Health (NIH) Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC) in Rockville, MD. It is part of the Tox21 project, which merges existing agency resources (research, funding, and testing tools) to develop ways to more effectively predict how chemicals will affect human health and the environment. The ToRTS system marks the beginning of a new phase of the Tox21 collaboration, which aims to working to protect human health by improving how chemicals are tested in the United States.
Tox21 was established in 2008 between the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program (NTP), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and the EPA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) joined in 2010. More information on Tox21 is available here.