It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.

– Dan Quayle

Tissue sample analysis is critical to several industry sectors including environmental toxicology, human biomonitoring, and wildlife monitoring.  However, handling, preparation, and analysis of biological samples can be challenging to many labs, especially when the target analytes are low-level metals and metals species. Issues with inhomogeneity and contamination can lead to poor quality data.

Brooks Applied Labs has the expertise and technology to provide the best possible data quality for biological samples. We helped establish clean-room and sampling techniques for the trace metals industry and continue to be leaders in this area as consultants to other laboratories and instructors of special sampling methods. We also use the most advanced technologies available to minimize analytical interferences, including dynamic reaction cell (DRC) and collision cell interference reduction technologies associated with all of our ICP-MS instruments, which are especially useful for the determinations of arsenic, chromium, iron, and selenium concentrations in biological samples.

Tissue & Biological Testing Services We Offer:


Ultra-trace Metals
Tissues and biological samples can contain high levels of compounds that commonly cause polyatomic interferences for the ICP-MS analysis of several elements. Brooks Applied Labs employs some of the most advanced technologies available to minimize analytical interferences, including dynamic reaction cell (DRC) and collision cell interference reduction technologies associated with all ICP-MS instruments, allowing for vastly more accurate determinations of arsenic, chromium, iron, and selenium concentrations in complex matrices like biological samples.
Mercury and Methylmercury
Brooks Applied Labs is the foremost expert in the field of analyzing tissue samples for total and methylmercury. We have pioneered the methods for these analyses and have used our collective experience to continually modify and improve the methods over the past several decades.

Brooks Applied Labs recently demonstrated the superiority of the Appendix to EPA Method 1631 for the total mercury analysis of tissue samples.  A comparison of data from samples prepared and analyzed in 2012 using both methods EPA 7471 and the Appendix to EPA Method 1631 demonstrated that mercury recoveries were consistently biased low by approximately 20% when prepared with EPA 7471. Download our “Does EPA Method 7471 Accurately Measure Mercury Concentrations in Fish?” poster.

Brooks Applied Labs has also developed a method for the methylmercury analysis of samples that contain dense keratin filaments (e.g., fur, feathers, nails, antlers). Analyses of these types of samples typically produced undetectable results that had little value in wildlife monitoring studies, because earlier digestion methods were not effective with these matrices.  Development of an effective method was vital for nondestructive sample collection techniques for the determination of methylmercury concentrations in mammals and birds.  Now, scientists involved in wildlife conservation studies have an excellent tool to assess the true impact of mercury contamination in the subject species without diminishing the population in the process. Download our Determining Methylmercury Concentrations in Mammals and Birds Utilizing Nondestructive Sample Collection Techniques Article.

Types of Testing We Do:


Homogenization
Biological samples are homogenized by various techniques, depending upon their specific matrix type.  Dissection, chopping, cutting, grinding, and other techniques may be required to initially homogenize samples. All homogenization is performed using pre-cleaned commercial-grade homogenization equipment.

Homogenization blanks are typically analyzed for the analyte of interest to assess potential contamination of samples during the homogenization procedure. Homogenization blanks are collected on any new piece of homogenization equipment, whenever a new technician is homogenizing samples, or upon the request of the client.

Minimal Mass Options
Obtaining sufficient mass for analysis is often a concern for tissue samples. Whether it is due to a small target species or because a nondestructive sample collection technique is being used (e.g. blood samples collected into capillaries instead of 5-mL tubes, or collecting fish “plugs” instead of fillets) many researchers are frustrated with the lack of meaningful metals data that can be provided when their samples have a limited mass. Brooks Applied Labs offers among the most reliably low detection limits for metals in the environmental testing industry, which can often provide detectable results from tissue or blood samples as small as 20 mg.
International Tissue Sampling
Brooks Applied Labs holds a license from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the import/export of biological tissues, permitting receipt of tissue samples from overseas projects. This permit is required for any facility to receive and handle foreign tissues. Brooks Applied Labs also holds a permit from the Unites States Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the import, export, and possession of migratory birds.

Brooks Applied Labs has some of the lowest detection limits commercially available to our clients. View our MDL & MRL Table.