Chemical Analysis & Detection (CAD)

Chemical Analysis & Detection Facility Core (CAD)

The CAD Facility Core is unique at Rutgers University, providing customer requested new methods development, rapid response field sample collection, as well as mass spectrometric analysis of environmental contaminants and metabolites.  CAD has been in operation for more than 30 years, providing sophisticated chemical analysis capabilities beyond those of individual research groups. The Core also provides training to students, research staff, postdocs and faculty to facilitate broad access to instrumentation for investigator-run assays.   

CAD works with CEED investigators to develop or adapt analytical methods that are often performed by the PIs lab personnel after operational training using CAD instrumentation.  

Core Directors

Photo of Brian Buckley PhD
Brian Buckley, PhD
Executive Director, Director of Research Rutgers-EOHSICEED – Chemical Analytical and Detection Core
Photo of Zorimar Rivera-Nunez Ph.D., M.S.
Zorimar Rivera-Nunez, Ph.D., M.S.
Assistant Professor Biostatistics and EpidemiologyRutgers School of Public Health

Core Mission

The CAD facility core’s expertise in both inorganic and organic molecules offers customized method development capabilities and support plans investigator.  Core personnel have on average more than 20 years of experience in performing complex chemical analysis on multiple types of environmental and biological sample matrices. Analyses are accomplished using multiple extraction protocols including: microwave digestion/extraction, sonication, solid phase extraction, (SPE) and solid phase micro extraction (SPME) followed by chromatographic separation with mass spectrometric detection. Analytes are identified and quantified using a variety of highly specialized technologies including:  inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP/MS), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and high/ultra-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC/MS). Instrumentation for field detection of contaminants are routinely evaluated, standardized and validated using the same procedures employed when evaluating new mass spectrometric technologies.  CAD also identifies and recommends external analytical laboratories when needed. 

Training & Education

Training and Education is a critical component in the success of the CAD. As many chemistry departments drop their analytical programs, there is a corresponding decrease in opportunities to receive training in the fundamental principles of analytical chemistry. Formal training for instrument operation, data interpretation and methods application is available through CAD (Training allows the investigator to run their own assays in lieu of having the Core personnel perform these services at cost. Instrument operation is also an important career skill and the CAD, provides analytical expertise and training to graduate students (see below), post-doctoral fellows and investigators, especially new investigators requiring sophisticated chemical and biomolecular analyses


CAD Core Services

When chemical analyses are complete, data undergo extensive quality control and assurance, first by the staff analyst and then by the Directors before being released to investigators with annotations regarding data with anomalies or discrepancies. The investigators meet with the Directors to discuss and interpret data, project changes, and possible retests. Investigators can also request support for data inclusion in manuscripts (e.g., limits of quantitation) or figures such as mass chromatograms.

Quality assurance is a key metric for the success of the CAD. B. Buckley serves as the Quality Assurance Officer for CEED. CAD uses all conventional protocols for quality assurance including external quality control samples, sample blanks and duplicates, and internal standard spikes. External QC samples (e.g., National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] Standard Reference Materials) and internal standards with isotopic labels are used when commercially available. When QC materials are not available, they are manufactured in-house by CAD.

The CAD detection unit facilitates the ability of investigators to work on field studies in innovative ways. Some of these projects require field sample collection, while others use equipment to take  nvironmental measurements. In conjunction with the Human/Animal Exposure (HUMANE) facility core, CAD is continuing to adapt, validate, and utilize field ready instruments for real-time measurements.


CAD has long recognized the need to partner with communities. As part of rapid (often disaster) response teams and as community science trainers, the Core has established ongoing collaborations with various communities in NJ and beyond, many initiated through collaboration with the CEC. CAD has been partnering with community groups since the early 1990s, providing training, outreach, and collaboration identifying and measuring environmental contaminants. Community partnerships have continued to grow and now include partnerships with NJ groups including Isles, Clean Water Action, Newark Water Coalition, NJ Future, and the East Trenton Collaborative.

CAD Community-Driven Activities

In 2019, the city of Newark, NJ experienced a lead-in-water crisis, with ~23,800 potentially exposed households. CAD developed and distributed free water sampling kits to city residents and those with contemporaneous homes within the city (C. Doherty and B. Buckley). Results from the water sampling kits, coupled with the change in the “Lead and Copper Rule” (U.S. EPA regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water) helped to develop a sequential water sampling strategy for identifying the source of lead in drinking water (e.g., faucets, service line, water mains).


The East Trenton Collaborative (ETC), a local community group operating in the East Trenton neighborhood in Trenton, NJ, and NJ Future, a statewide advocacy organization requested a partnership for their initiative to help address lead (Pb) exposure within their marginalized community. They learned about our work identifying Pb in drinking water in Newark from the Newark Water Coalition and requested our help to “make East Trenton a great place to live, work, and play”. Lead by Brian Buckley, Ph.D., Director of CEED Chemical Analysis and Detection facility core, and Shereyl Snider, Community Organizer (ETC),  the project was launched in August of 2022  to address lead (Pb) exposure within East Trenton marginalized community.

In West Orange, NJ, CAD members partnered with Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (Rev. M. Hernández, member of CEED CAB) to provide environmental sampling and analysis for lead and other contaminants.

CAD is also partnering with S. Snider from the East Trenton Collaborative (ETC) and S. Aptman of NJ Future on a CEED pilot grant to develop intervention strategies based on lead source apportionment studies using samples collected by ETC volunteers.

In 2021, NJ Transit, the state’s public transportation system, contacted CAD with a request to provide analytical methods for assessing the effectiveness of chemical and UV light disinfection techniques in buses and trains. CAD demonstrated that UV light disinfection technologies were more effective (the light  reached more surfaces  through  reflection) than predicted. CAD also evaluated the practicality of deployment and recovery of the equipment within the time window available for daily disinfection, ultimately determining that chemical disinfection was a more practical process.

SPME samplers were first deployed after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 to measure mold volatile organic compounds (I. Yang) and again after Hurricane María in 2017 to measure both microbial volatile organic compounds and combustion products from burning diesel fuel in generators.

In subsequent studies, the fragility of the SPME fibers, as well as their reliance on location of deployment and airflow raised a question as to whether there might be a better passive personal air monitor for these compounds.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the antiparasitic drug ivermectin was used as a preventative or “cure” for COVID-19. After one individual was hospitalized and later died after taking ivermectin, NJ Poison Control Center requested that CAD develop and test a method to measure  trace levels of active ivermectin in autopsy specimens. CAD accomplished this in less than 3 weeks. The results were presented to NJ Poison Control Center staff and occupational medicine physicians through a Grand Rounds organized by TRSC.

Recent Core Publications

Barrett ES, Rivera-Núñez Z, Getz K, Ohman-Strickland P, Zhang R, Kozlosky D, Doherty CL, Buckley BT, Brunner J, Miller RK, O’Connor TG, Aleksunes LM. Protective role of the placental efflux transporter BCRP/ABCG2 in the relationship between prenatal cadmium exposure, placenta weight, and size at birth. Environ Res. 2023 May 15;225:115597. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.115597. Epub 2023 Mar 1. PMID: 36863650; PMCID: PMC10091184.


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