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environmental estrogen testing review

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Questions for Env. Estrogen Screen / Home Testing for Endocrine Disruptors

Goal for month: contact DIY-Bio community, start growing yeast, video, why yeast, bio-monitoring generally/methodologically, what kind of data does this produce? Sketches about how the yeast work. Proposed goal for three months: Come up with Hello World Proposed goal for six months: build community of expert participants Proposed over all goal for year: try in a home

History/context of tool

  • what inspired it? “to test sources of water for the presence of environmental estrogens” (tool page)
    • who (all) designed/developed/tested it? Where? (PLOTS Toxics and Health working group, with Joan Ruderman/Harvard University, Gary Wessel/Brown University, Jean Huang/Olin College, Yuyu Chen, Mara Strenberg, Avery Louie, and Sara Wylie.)
    • where has it been used and how did it go? - “We are currently in the earliest stage of development on this tool.” (tool page) in the New England Research Center
    • how specialized is demand for the tool? - broad- any home
    • opportunities for sponsorship or major partnership? unable to be determined


  • documentation, transmission to new users - early stage
  • tools needed? - early stage, unknown. hello world test?
  • skills needed? - what knowledge does it assume? difficulty? - early stage, unknown
  • materials needed - supply chain limitations- early stage, unknown. (Level 1 Bio lab req. not listed)
  • safety- early stage, unknown but seems like handling circuitry could be dangerous


  • what is it costing us in staff hours?
  • what is it costing in materials? - early stage, unknown


  • what are the per-use costs? - early stage, unknown
  • what are wearing parts? (frequency of replacement) - early stage, unknown


  • are there opportunities for people to participate/contribute
  • formats: online/offline? - early stage, unknown
  • cost? (dollars, time) - early stage, unknown
  • access to materials, components - early stage, unknown
  • language barrier? - early stage N/A
  • language: domain-specific, insider/outsider - early stage

Change effected

  • how has it measurably/materially affected:
    • local ecology - early stage N/A
    • available/actionable information? - early stage N/A
    • decision making - early stage N/A
    • legal, policy, regulatory - early stage N/A
    • enables participation in a formerly closed information loop - early stage (inspiring interest as an idea)


2012 tool goals:

  • Post photos/media about other similar tests/setups
  • Post photographs, documentation of a prototype or experimental setup
    • concepts for designing home testing kits, protocols for sample prep (listed on tool page)
  • develop container (based on glass prototypes) for the culturing the yeast with the sample
  • attempt cost, materials list estimates (ballpark)
  • identify a “hello world” - a first, easy “successful” use of the tool which others should try to replicate
    • make guide for growing your own yeast?
  • figure out what form the data will take, and how it will be shared,
    • “glowing or turning blue” -- what does it look like, what does each mean?
  • (for any home tool) issues with privacy on sharing data on personal residences
  • plan events around to-dos, like sample preparation, developing experimental setups, attempting a similar test for feasibility
    • Hand sketch diagram of a “biological circuit” (a term that is entirely new to me, BTW)?
    • storyboard “the process would take W days, be affordable for X, would reveal Y information which would lead to Z actions”