Immunoassay technology, a quick and cost-effective method of detecting and measuring minute quantities of substances in the human body, has now transitioned from the clinical and biological research arenas to environmental investigations. The technique, which exploits the capacity of a mammalian antibody to latch onto a particular chemical with great specificity, is used in at-home pregnancy tests, workplace drug-screening programs, and AIDS testing. Within the last year, however, several immunoassay-based tests have been introduced that detect pesticides and other contaminants in the environment.

Most immunoassay tests that have been adapted for environmental research are enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), which use an enzyme as a label for measuring the amount of pesticide in a sample. While these tests display an accuracy comparable to that of traditional lab-based analytical methods, such as gas chromatography (GC), their low cost, speed, and portability (most are marketed as test kits that can be used in...

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