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Lawrence Livermore's Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is one of the leading AMS facilities in the world, performing about 25% of all AMS analyses. It is also at the forefront of the emerging field of AMS as applied to biomedical research. AMS is so sensitive that it can identify just a few molecules of a substance among trillions of molecules. This sensitivity makes possible for the first time the study of toxins, dietary nutrients, drugs, and other substances in dosages that are relevant to humans. Work with volunteer subjects indicates that a chemical that is produced when meat is cooked adversely affects human DNA more than it does the DNA of laboratory animals. This research supports the need to pursue additional human biological risk assessment using AMS. Livermore is also performing studies of the human metabolism of calcium, which are difficult without AMS.
Livermore isotope scientists are using stable and radioactive isotopes to learn about groundwater sources, ages, travel times, and flow paths and to determine the path and extent of contaminant movement in the water. These studies started at the Nevada Test Site because of concern about the transport in groundwater of contaminants from underground nuclear testing. When water managers can accurately predict where contaminated groundwater will be, they can avoid using it. Groundwater studies have also been performed for the Orange County Water District, Contra Costa County, and other public agencies, as well as at the Livermore site. Livermore scientists are some of the first to marry isotope tracing techniques and numerical groundwater models, using data from the former to verify and validate the predictions of the latter and thus provide a powerful forecasting tool for water managers.
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