The Testing Laboratories Center: protecting Palestinians one test at a time
“The center plays a great role in serving Birzeit University’s community and the broader Palestinian society. It is the Palestinian consumer’s first line of defense,” said Director of the Testing Laboratories Center Belal Amous. The center, which has recently acquired new, state-of-the-art analysis devices through a new project, is one of Palestine’s foremost testing facilities and a reference for individuals and government officials alike.
Founded in 1982, the Testing Laboratories Center at Birzeit University offers services and conducts research in the field of environmental health and toxicology, environmental education, pharmaceutical and veterinary drugs, food, animal feed, water and wastewater, petroleum products, lubricating oils, and soil and concrete.
The devices, said Amous, will greatly improve the center’s capabilities and expand the services it provides to the community. Additionally, the center will be able to assist the industrial, agricultural, health care, environmental, and tertiary sectors.
“The project comprises two stages: the first, during which the center was developed and its capabilities enhanced; and the second, which will expand the center’s services to include more areas such as air pollution,” added Amous.
The center is composed of four main units: Food Safety, Environmental Health and Water, Pharmaceutical Safety, and Petroleum Products and Lubricating Oil – the only one of its kind in Palestine.
The Testing Laboratories Center, added Amous, are certified by a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations, such as the General Directorate of Petroleum, the Ministry of National Economy, the Palestinian Standards Institution, the Ministry of Health, and other international organizations such as the UNRWA and the World Food Programme.
The center has implemented a number of projects and carried out many research studies, most important of which, respectively, is an environmental education project for governmental and private schools and a study on the food coloring of sweets marketed to children.
“During our testing, we’ve detected toxic industrial alcohol in some imported medical drugs, even though they were tested twice off-site. We’ve also detected the injection of pesticides in olive tree stumps by Israeli settlers in Salfeet,” said Amous.
The center provides one of the most diverse range of tests in Palestine and is part of the Laboratory Proficiency Testing Program, an international program in which AOAC INTERNATIONAL sends samples to over 500 labs around the world for testing and ranks the participating centers on accuracy of results, among other measures. The Testing Laboratories Center ranked highly on all of the tests that it undertook, with excellent to very good tests results.