Working with Laboratories

Alaska Native communities have often expressed their wish to be directly involved in, and direct, laboratory testing. Canadian Native people have successfully realized this dream. The Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment (CINE) is a Native-directed laboratory that is associated with McGill University in Montreal. CINE received major funding under the Canada Northern Contaminants Program.

CINE laboratory staff have worked directly with communities. Community representatives have visited the CINE lab. CINE offers an excellent model for Alaska.

You can learn more about CINE by visiting the CINE website. We also have a visual/audio tour of the CINE laboratory (Note: this works best using Internet Explorer version 5.0 or later).

The CINE Governing Board (all representatives of Canada's Native groups) this fall decided that CINE can draw on its experience and expertise to make a contribution to other countries. They particularly think Alaska is an good place to make a contribution. We are looking forward to working with CINE in the mini-grant program.

We have established working relationships with other research laboratories who also have proven capabilities to work with the diverse set of samples expected in this project. Each of these laboratories participates in the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), Charleston Laboratory Marine Mammal Quality Assurance Program or is a 5-year contractor selected under a quality assurance-based system by the US Fish and Wildlife Service Patuxent Analytical Control Laboratory.

Paul Becker, John Kucklick, and Steve Christopher at the NIST lab prepared a tour of how they prepare samples for the NIST quality assurance program. The tour takes awhile to download, so please be patient. It is worth the wait. Click here for the NIST page to access the tour. (Note: this works best using Internet Explorer version 5.0 or later)

You can see contact information for the US Fish and Wildlife Service Patuxent Lab by clicking here. 

Peggy Krahn at the National Marine Fisheries Service laboratory in Seattle has made a major contribution to the mini-grants program by helping to develop analysis procedures and to work with us on the Quality Assurance Project Plan. The NMFS laboratory is experienced in testing for contaminants in Alaska Native food resources and we hope to work with them in the mini-grant program. To learn more about the NMFS laboratory, visit the NMFS website.

Two other laboratories that have already helped us to design the mini-grants program are AXYS Analytical Services and Research Triangle Institute Metals Laboratory. AXYS specializes in testing for persistent organic pollutants. You can take a virtual tour of the AXYS labs (Note: this works best using Internet Explorer version 5.0 or later). RTI specializes in testing for heavy metals.

University of Alaska faculty are interested in working with Alaska Native communities to build a laboratory testing capability in Alaska. Sal Cuccarese, director of the Environment and Natural Resource Institute (ENRI) is working with faculty members Mark Hines and John Kennish at University of Alaska Anchorage on this idea. University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty members John Blake and Larry Duffy as well as other faculty on a contaminants and pathology testing capability.

We plan to work with CINE to develop a collaborative relationship among the above laboratories, ultimately building an Alaska Native-directed laboratory capability in Alaska.

Under "Project Plan" we described all the steps that laboratories need to take. We also made suggestions to tribes about designing a testing program. Here we provide some brief explanations of important factors to consider when working with laboratories:

Experience testing different types of contaminants
Experience testing different types of materials
Participation in a quality assurance program
Types of quality control procedures
Testing as a part of a bigger picture
Questions for labs
Different testing laboratories

After you have reviewed the information about laboratories, please go to "Community Discussion".