Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody. 

-Mark Twain

fresh water analysisWater analysis may be considered routine by many who work with environmental analyses; however, it can be a very complex matrix depending on where the water is from and what constituents are present. Specialized methods and extensive experience with non-routine water analyses are critical for providing accurate trace-level metals data.

Brooks Applied Labs analyzes water samples using several different 1600-series methods, depending on the type of water to be analyzed.  In addition, we have developed several innovative methods to accurately assess trace-level contaminants in complex water matrices such as seawater and flue gas desulfurization wastewaters. Our advanced analytical services set us apart from routine labs, to help you meet your goals for even the most challenging projects. Request a quote online to get started!

Due to the improvements already achieved in treating and monitoring industrial process wastewaters and municipal sewage discharges, non-point source pollution has been identified by the US EPA and many state environmental agencies as the leading cause of persistent water quality impairment. Non-point source pollution occurs primarily as a result of the surface runoff from precipitation, commonly referred to as stormwater, mobilizing and transporting contaminants into our lakes, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries. These pollutants can accumulate in receiving waters and sediment, adversely affecting the overall health of aquatic ecosystems and threatening the beneficial use of many water resources.

Of particular interest are several common heavy metals that have been demonstrated to severely impact water quality. Substantial amounts of heavy metals are deposited and mobilized by transportation (vehicle exhaust, brake linings, etc.), construction (soil erosion, exposed metal, etc.), and emissions from industrial activities (power plants, cement kilns, etc.). Precipitation is also naturally mildly acidic; therefore, it has the potential to dissolve and transport these toxic surface pollutants to receiving waters. Consequently, significant concentrations of cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, and zinc are frequently found in stormwater, especially in highly developed areas.

In response, regulatory agencies across the nation have implemented stormwater management programs in compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and the Clean Water Act to monitor for and eventually reduce heavy metal pollution in stormwater. In addition to stormwater management system operators, construction sites in excess of one acre and large industrial facilities are generally required to implement stormwater monitoring and pollution prevention plans. These plans typically employ various approved Best Management Practices (BMP) to facilitate the removal of heavy metals from stormwater before it reaches receiving waters.

However, thousands of water bodies across the nation are already listed for impairment due to heavy metals from stormwater sources. Once listed, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies to identify the total pollutant loading that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards must be performed.

In order to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of specific BMP installations under varying conditions or acquire data with sufficient accuracy and precision to be useful in TMDL studies, far more sensitive analytical methods are required.

At Brooks Applied Labs we utilize analytical methods that were developed by the EPA specifically for the determination of heavy metals with sufficient accuracy and precision to measure concentrations at ambient levels. These highly-specialized methods require ultra-clean laboratory facilities, reagents, and instrumentation in order to minimize or eliminate contamination that could easily exceed ambient concentrations and result in elevated method detection limits (MDL).

For example, by utilizing EPA Method 1638 (Determination of Trace Elements in Ambient Waters by ICP-MS) in conjunction with interference removal technology, such as a Dynamic Reaction Cell or Collision Cell Technology, we are able to achieve some of the lowest MDLs commercially available.

Additionally, as one of the few laboratories that participated in the development and validation of EPA Method 1631 (Mercury in Water by Oxidation, Purge and Trap, and CVAFS) and EPA Method 1630 (Methylmercury in Water by Distillation, Aqueous Ethylation, Purge and Trap, and CVAFS), we have unparalleled experience performing these ultra-sensitive methods in order to measure mercury and methylmercury concentrations at sub parts-per-trillion levels.