Do you know if the water that flows from your tap meets the standards and is safe? And the food you buy at the supermarket, for example fresh produce, has been subjected to quality control? Are we consuming products with levels of pesticides that harm our health? And what is the quality of the air you breathe in the office? Do you know if there are pollutants in it? And how can we guarantee that the medicines we buy have the right composition, in the right doses, and do not contain impurities harmful to your health?
What does a technology hub, focused on industry, technology and innovation such as ISQ have to do with Lifescience? Everything. ISQ decided to unite the various skills it already has in the chemical, pharmaceutical and agro-food sectors with regard to analysis and testing, and created a highly specialized Unit called QFA (Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Agro-Food), dedicated to providing analysis services to various sectors of activity. These are areas of activity with a high technological and scientific component, based on the accumulated experience of laboratory activity of the ISQ Group.
We are talking about chemical analyses of drinking and irrigation water for the assessment of legal compliance for health protection purposes as well as microbiological control analyses. We contribute to the assessment of legal compliance with respect to drinking, natural, waste and process waters. Always with two approaches: human health and environmental preservation. We also analyze soils, sludge, marine sediments, and waste (circular economy), assisting in the classification of the final destination.
Regarding food safety, QFA performs food quality control through chemical analysis of contaminants and microbiological analysis to assess the conformity of foodstuffs in order to promote consumer safety.
In terms of indoor air quality, it makes available microbiological and chemical agent analyses that make it possible to evaluate risks associated with exposure that have a relevant impact on workers’ health. An example of this is the case of Legionella, a pathology that originates from inhaling water droplets containing the Legionella pneumophila bacteria. Legionella can be a public health problem in places such as commercial spaces, hotels, spas, industry, and offices. The risk of outbreaks increases with long periods of building inactivity, and can be deadly and infect multiple individuals at the same time.
In terms of quality control of pharmaceutical products, with Infarmed authorization (the Portuguese Authority for Medicines and Health Products) and FDA inspection (Food and Drug Administration), QFA performs physicochemical quality control of human medicines, experimental drugs and active substances. This control also includes analyses of impurities (elemental and others, e.g. nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic compounds), dosage, stability tests (to define shelf life), and uniformity of content of pharmaceutical products to assess their conformity.
Basically, “QFA embraces three business areas: the Labqui laboratory, dedicated to providing collection and analysis services mainly in the Environmental and Agricultural fields (primary sector), the Labiagro laboratory, specialized in analysis services for the Agro-Food Industry and large distribution, and QCPharma, dedicated to providing services to the pharmaceutical industry in the field of quality control. QFA aims to be a national and international reference in analytical services in the different areas where it is present,” explains Margarida Pinto, director of QFA.
Currently, QFA is focused on analytical services, but intends in the near future to expand its scope of action to consulting services in different areas (Environment, Agri-Food and Pharmaceuticals). This service will complement the analytical services that are intended to be the “core-business” of QFA.
It should be noted that the ISQ Group has been investing in LifeScience since 2000 (expanding its network of laboratories, currently 16), a sector that has been the target of major scientific and technological advances, constituting itself as an active partner of organizations in this sector, supported by its vast technical and laboratory experience.