Health and Environments Research Centre [HERC] Laboratory

Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
What the facility does

Research on aerosol science, toxicological impacts of airborne particles on human health, risk assessment of air quality on human health, research and technology development on the implications of climate change for human health and society.

Areas of expertise

Researchers at the Health and Environments Research Centre (HERC) Laboratory collaborate with other investigators and  industrial partners locally and globally, to examine the sources, fate, transport and metabolism of aerosols of health significance in human environments and ecosystems. Key considerations include the associated toxicological mechanisms and pathways of host defense, tissue injury and repair, and other systems-related responses in relation to such exposures; the identification of new clinically significant markers of environmental and occupational toxicology and pathogenesis; the estimation of the population health burden of such exposures on the health of Canadians and the global community; and the development of new environmental public health policy and community health planning tools. Our areas of expertise include toxicology, environmental and occupational health, environmental chemistry, atmospheric science, and climate change.

Our facilities are linked to the Canadian Aerosol Research Network (CARN), with the global purpose of enabling researchers, consultants, and governmental officials to conduct environmental and occupational health and atmospheric science research in accordance with the Canadian Aerosol Research Network user principles and definitions.

Research services

Indoor and outdoor air quality assessment, characterization of environmental contaminants in air, water and soil, characterization of fine particulate matter and aerosol composition, environmental sampling method development, worksite exposure investigations, analysis of trace metals in environmental samples and filter weighing and sample collection preparation, exposure assessment support to epidemiological and occupational hygiene studies, freely accessible information and data. We provide a repository of GEOS-Chem input files (such as emission and metfields), and data processed from meteorological input from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) of the NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office and the MERRA reanalysis.

We ask users to familiarize themselves with corresponding publications and communicate with the research contact listed to ensure the most up-to-date and appropriate use of information.

Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Clean technology
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Healthcare and social services
  • Information and communication technologies and media
  • Life sciences, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment
  • Ocean industries
  • Policy and governance

Specialized lab



Analytical Chemistry Suite

Thermo Scientific iCAP Q ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer)

Trace elemental analysis


PerkinElmer Clarus ® SQ 8 GC-MS/TD (Thermo-Desorption Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer)

Trace organic and inorganic compound analysis


Thermo Scientific Exactive Plus Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer

Identify and quantify chemicals in complex matrices


Thermo Scientific ISQ GC-MS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometer)

Trace organic compound analysis


Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-5000 Reagent-Free HPIC (High Pressure Ion Chromatography) System

Simultaneous anion and cation analysis


Thermo Scientific Dionex ASE 350 Accelerated Solvent Extractor

Extracts solids and semisolid samples for chemical analysis


Thermo Scientific Spectra HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography System)

Quantify organic and inorganic compounds with chemical speciation


Sunset Laboratory Semi-Continuous OCEC Carbon Aerosol Analyzer (Sunset OCEC)

OCEC=Organic Carbon/Elemental Carbon.  Quantifies organic and elemental carbon in aerosol.


TSI 3081/3085//3775 Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer

Continuous measurements of the size distribution and number concentration of submicron particles


Sartorius SE-2-F Microbalance and Terra Universal Cleanroom

High-precision, seven-digit microbalance in clean room


CEM Discover SP-D microwave digester

Fast and efficient sample digestion for metal analysis

Environmental analytical chemistry facilities for high-precision analyses of environmental contaminants' Environmental Monitoring Suite

Aerodyne Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor

Real-time quantification of inorganic and organic components in submicron particles


CES Xact 625 ambient metals monitor

Near real-time trace elemental analysis


Thermo Scientific 5012 Multi-Angle Absorption Photometer for Real-time Black Carbon Monitoring

Continuous measurement of black carbon


Thermo Scientific 5014i Beta Continuous Ambient Particulate Monitor

Continuous measurement of PM10, PM2.5, PM1, and total suspended particles


Thermo Scientific 42i NO-NO2-NOx (nitrogen oxide) Analyzer

Continuous measurement of oxides of nitrogen levels


Thermo Scientific 48i-TLE Enhanced Trace Level CO (carbon monoxide) Analyzer

Continuous measurements carbon monoxide


Recordum Airpointers

Real-time measurements of O3, CO, SO2, H2S, NOx, and PM2.5 and weather metrics


Thermo Scientific Partisol 2300 Speciation Sampler

Filter-based ambient particulate sampling of PM2.5 and PM10


Thermo Scientific Partisol Plus 2025 Sequential Air Sampler

Filter-based ambient particulate sampling of PM2.5 and PM10


TSI Ultrafine Particle Monitor 3031

Continuous measurements of the size, distribution and number concentration of ultrafine particles


DustTrak Drx Aerosol Monitor 8533

Continuous measurements of PM1, PM2.5, PM4, PM10, and total PM fractions


TSI Q-Trak Indoor Air Quality Monitor 7575

Measures CO2, CO, temperature, and humidity


TSI Condensation Particle Counter 3007

Continuous measurements of submicron particle number concentrations

Toxicology Suite

Nanoparticle generating unit

In vitro toxicity testing system


Cell culturing unit


Remote Sensing Computing  Suite (PCS) - Physics and Atmospheric Sciences


High Powered Computing Suite PE R410 Head Node, dual E5520, 16GB 2*80GB, RPS





Dell Precision T5500 Quad Core Xeon E55062 Workstations + Office



Remote Sensing Data Repository

GEOS-Chem input data: We provide a repository of GEOS-Cheminput files (emission, metfields, etc.), which can be downloaded via anonymous FTP from Data processed from meteorological input from the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) of the NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office and the MERRA reanalysis.

  • University of Toronto
  • University of British Columbia
  • Health Canada
  • University of Calgary
  • University of Iowa (USA)
  • National Research Foundation of Korea
  • Korea Institute of Toxicology
  • Mount Allison University
  • Manipal University/ Faculty of Medicine/ India
  • Health Effects Institute (USA)
  • The Lung Association of Nova Scotia
  • Canadian Cancer Society (PEI Division)
  • Canadian Institutes for Health Research
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute
  • National Research Council Canada