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About the Division

Laboratory Services Division Entrance

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Laboratory Services Division provides a unique integration of scientific analyses and regulatory programs that serve and protect the citizens of Colorado.

The division functions as the state's principal public health and environmental laboratory.

The laboratory is located at 8100 Lowry Boulevard in Denver and employs approximately 60 full time scientists and lab technicians and 20 laboratory support staff and operates responsibly using cost-effective xeriscaping and an energy efficient internal design.

  Laboratory Services Division Strategic Plan pdf file


The State Board of Health established a small laboratory, in cooperation with the City of Denver, in Denver's City Hall. At that time, the laboratory’s primary purpose was to perform diphtheria culture work.


During the laboratory's first year of operation, 1,487 examinations were conducted resulting in the recording of 224 cases of diphtheria in Denver, helping to isolate and limit this killer disease.

The State Board of Health reported in its Biennial Report that, in addition to performing tests for diphtheria, the laboratory was equipped to do tests for syphilis and typhoid fever, examination of smears for various venereal diseases, examination of sputum for tuberculosis and examination for rabies.


The Board also noted that the laboratory was capable of performing all analyses of water supplies for drinking and culinary purposes and food and drug analyses.

The laboratory was officially viewed as a subdivision within the state's Division of Public Health in 1941.

In 1948, the department expanded laboratory services without charge to physicians, dentists and public health workers throughout the state. Restaurants were inspected; milk products were regulated, sanitized and pasteurized; and the department began exhaustive studies of stream pollution.


The department also adopted new regulations on water supplies and plumbing.

In 1949, the state health department began licensing plants handling fluid milk for human consumption. These activities led to expanded laboratory activity.

The laboratory conducted testing to determine the effects from exposure to small amounts of radioactive ores over a long period of time, the amounts and kinds of radiation existing in the mines and mills, the contamination of water supplies by radioactive materials, the effects of radiation on plant life and the effects that working radioactive ores have on persons living in the area.

In 1965, the state public health laboratory began testing newborns for Phenylketonuria (PKU), a disorder whereby the infant is unable to break down and use an essential amino acid building block, phenylalanine, resulting in mental retardation and in some cases, death.


Additional screening tests were added to the newborn test panel, to include Cystic Fibrosis and in 2006, Tandem Mass Spectrometry technology was implemented and 23 additional disorders were added to the screening panel.

Today the Laboratory Services Division offers over 290 laboratory tests and 14 services, to include expert testimony and on-site inspections and certifications as well as accredited training for testing professionals.