Toxic chemicals and heavy metals in the environment are major contributors to human disease and pollution worldwide. Some of these molecules are naturally occurring, while others are synthetic. Chemical toxins include coal- and petroleum-based hydrocarbons, explosives, and other industrial waste products. Heavy metals, such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead, are found in nature and can accumulate to dangerous levels in soil and water either naturally or as a result of industrial, mining, and agricultural activities. In the United States, there are nearly 300,000 waste sites with an estimated $250 billion price tag for the clean-up of chemical and heavy metal toxins from the environment (www.cluin.org).
Labs conducting research in this area include: