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Officials break ground on new state health and environment laboratory

Steve Carmody
Michigan Public
Officials break ground on a new state health and environment laboratory southwest of Lansing on Friday, April 19, 2024.

State officials broke ground Friday for a new lab testing center just southwest of Lansing.

The new facility will house consolidated lab space for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy; and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

The health department's Bureau of Laboratories currently provides a wide variety of clinical and environmental public health testing. Its total volume of all testing is close to 7 million tests per year, officials said, making it one of the top seven state public health laboratories in the nation. Examples of testing include:

  • Infectious diseases in humans, such as tuberculosis or legionellosis,
  • Potential bioterrorism and chemical terrorism specimens submitted by law enforcement and the FBI,
  • Infectious agents and toxins in materials humans have been exposed to, such as testing for the presence of rabies in a bat that bit someone or testing for toxins from harmful algal blooms. (Rabies testing alone saves the state around $30 million by avoiding the administration of unnecessary post exposure prophylaxis, the state said.)
  • Newborn baby screening: Every newborn baby in the state gets screened for 58 different potential life-threatening disorders within 36 to 72 hours of birth.
  • Chemical exposure: The lab runs more than 500,000 tests to measure biomarkers of chemical exposures in humans, including blood lead testing and testing for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in blood.

When construction is complete in 2026, the 300,000-square-foot facility will provide expanded testing facilities for state health and environmental agencies.

“This new state-of-the-art building is just going to allow us to expand how much testing we’re able to do and really modernize the type of testing we’re going to do,” said Elizabeth Hertel, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Most of the $326 million being spent on the new lab is coming from the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Copyright 2024 Michigan Public. To see more, visit Michigan Public.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005.
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