State chemist lends expertise to Las Cruces chemistry teachers

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) – New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) and the Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) District have teamed up for the first time in the name of keeping the district’s chemistry teachers, students, and classrooms safe.

State chemist Andrew Randall, whose office is housed administratively and physically within NMDA, recently spent three days walking through the chemistry classrooms at 14 middle and high schools within LCPS.  He offered suggestions on how the classrooms could store materials in a safer, more secure way.

“I wasn’t there in a regulatory capacity, but in an advisory one,” Randall said.  “The goal was to help chemistry teachers be safer, which of course helps their students be safer.”

LCPS extended the invitation to Randall.

“Our sincere thanks to NMDA for helping to make our science classrooms safer,” said LPCS Superintendent Stan Rounds. “I personally am very grateful to state chemist Andrew Randall for taking the time to visit 14 of our middle and high schools to find ways to increase the safety of our students and staff – nothing is more important than that,” he said.

Randall oversees the State Chemist Laboratory, in which scientists test animal feeds (including dog and cat food) for bacterial pathogens as well as their protein, fat, fiber and mineral content; fertilizers for the available mineral, nitrogen, potash, and phosphoric acid content; and pesticides for the proper identification and formula verification.  These tests ensure that people who buy animal feeds, commercial fertilizers, and commercial pesticides in New Mexico get what they pay for.  In that way the lab ensures marketplace fairness for both buyer and seller; the lab also ensures responsible environmental stewardship by bringing to light exactly what the products contain.

The State Chemist Lab tests samples submitted by the public, for a fee, as well as those submitted by several NMDA inspectors across the state.  These inspectors routinely retrieve samples of animal feed, commercial fertilizers, and commercial pesticides for testing from businesses that sell these products.