The US Environmental Protection Agency periodically updates methods laboratories can use for protecting the quality of the nation's drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act office of the EPA published its list of Alternate Test Protocols (ATP) in the Federal Register in July 2016. The list includes NECi Superior Enzymes' enzyme-based nitrate test method. NECi/SE, a small biotechnology firm in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, applies biotechnology to develop safer methods for measuring the pollutants in our environment.
Nitrate is one of only sixteen inorganic ions on the EPA's Primary Contaminants list. Excess nitrate in potable water is dangerous for infants and harmful to people and livestock. The EPA is careful to allow methods that are proven to give accurate answers when public health is at stake. NECi/SE's new test is the first enzyme-based method permitted for measurement of any primary contaminant.
"We are proud to be revolutionaries in advancing new methods for the protection of environmental health and safety," says Ellen Campbell, the company's CEO.
NECi/SE's co-founder and chief scientist, Dr. WH Campbell, emeritus professor at Michigan Technological University, has a career in protein biotechnology spanning 40 years. Biotechnology makes it possible to change enzymes from delicate laboratory curiosities into commercial products.
NECi/SE's methods are based on enzymes, the proteins that make living systems run smoothly. Enzymes carry out complex chemical reactions in gentle conditions. Enzymes have incredible potential as analytical tools.
Enzymes can replace hazardous materials in legacy test methods. In addition to its unsurpassed accuracy and sensitivity, NECi/SE's new nitrate test method is safer for the lab technician and dramatically reduces hazardous waste.
The current ATP is specific for lab "robots" termed Discrete Analyzers. NECi/SE has formats for many applications, including simplified, user-friendly test kits. Coupled with the company's new handheld photometer, test kit users can view, track, and store data on Android devices. The lab method has been validated by the US Geological Survey and by ASTM International. Full approval for Clean Water Act compliance monitoring is anticipated for early 2017.
NECi Superior Enzymes was founded in 1993 to move biotechnology out of the university into the world of analytical chemistry, the science that keeps our water, air, and food clean and safe. We thank the Small Business Innovation Research programs of the USDA, NIH, and NSF for support.