Tip of the Month:
How long can I store my BAL containers?
This is actually not an easy question to answer as we have multiple types of analyses with different container and preservation requirements.
We recommend receiving your containers from BAL at least a week before your planned sampling event. Containers with preservatives already added will likely have a shorter ideal storage time than unpreserved containers. We recommend storing the containers in the BAL packaging (double-bagged in the cooler or shipping box) in a place that is away from potential contaminants (e.g., cigarette smoke, exhaust, etc.). If your bottle order contains reagent water for the collection of field blanks or equipment blanks, please note this should not be stored long-term (there may be an expiration date noted on the bottle).
If there are any questions or concerns about your containers, please contact your BAL Project Manager.
What different arsenic species can BAL measure?
The most common forms of arsenic that BAL quantifies on a regular basis are arsenite (As3+), arsenate (As5+), inorganic arsenic, organic arsenic, monomethylarsonic acid (MMAs), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAs). The full list of arsenic species available for testing can be found below:
- Arsenite (As(III) or As3+)
- Arsenate (As(V) or As5+)
- Total Inorganic Arsenic (the sum of arsenite and arsenate)
- Total Organic Arsenic (total arsenic minus total inorganic arsenic)
- Total Arsenic (representing all forms of arsenic)
- Monomethylarsonic acid (MMA or MMAs)
- Dimethylarsinic Acid (DMA or DMAs; aka cacodylic acid)
- Trimethylarsine oxide (TMAO)
- Thioarsenicals (multiple forms)
- Arsenobetaine (AsB)
- Arsenocholine (AsC)
- Arsenosugars (S- and P-forms)
- Hexafluoroarsenate (AsF6–)
- Roxarsone (aka 4-hydroxy-3-nitrobenzenearsonic acid or 3-Nitro)
- 3-Amino-4-hydroxyphenylarsonic acid
- 4-Hydroxy phenylarsonic acid
- p-Arsanilic acid (aka 4-Aminophenylarsonic acid)
- Phenylarsonic acid
- And others – contact us to learn more!
Which Arsenic Species should I Test for?
What’s the preservative for arsenic speciation in water samples?
The appropriate preservative for a water sample depends on several factors, including the sample matrix, the target arsenic species to be quantified, and the data quality objectives of the project. For regulatory permitting requiring the use of EPA Method 1632, samples are generally preserved with hydrochloric acid. Surface waters and oxic groundwaters may also be preserved with a buffered acetate solution containing a chelating agent (EDTA) that will prevent coprecipitation of arsenic with other metals.
For more complex matrices, research performed by Brooks Applied Labs (BAL) and by other scientists has demonstrated that acidification can induce significant biases in the obtained arsenic speciation data. This is particularly true for samples that are reducing or anoxic, such as landfill leachates or deeper groundwaters, where either unique arsenic species or sulfides may be present. Therefore, BAL has developed a method to preserve the arsenic species in such samples, which involves collection into evacuated vials containing EDTA.
Regardless of what chemical preservative is applied to the samples, arsenic speciation fractions should generally be kept cold (0-4 °C) and in the dark after collection and during shipment.
In summary, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for arsenic speciation that works for all water sample types and all possible arsenic species! Instead, the most appropriate approach depends upon the unique chemistry of the samples. BAL’s staff is here to help you select the best technique to ensure the representativeness and defensibility of your data. We strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your project needs before collecting samples for arsenic speciation.
Does Brooks Applied Labs do Cannabis Testing?
Unfortunately, no, Brooks Applied Labs (BAL) cannot provide testing services for metals in cannabis and cannabis products. We are located in Washington State, and the way that testing labs for cannabis are regulated in our state precludes us from being able to obtain a Washington State Certified Testing Lab license unless we can perform the entire scope of testing services required. As a specialty trace metals analytical laboratory, BAL does not perform testing services for parameters such as cannabinoid potency and mycotoxins. In addition, BAL is not eligible to receive a State of Washington Marijuana Research License due to our close proximity to a school and public park. Despite maintaining ISO 17025 accreditation for heavy metals in plants and food, we are not able to obtain a state license to receive cannabis and cannabis products at our facility.
Does BAL offer Cyanide Analysis?
Does BAL Support Stable Isotope Ratio Testing?
Which methods are BAL accredited for?
Is BAL DoD Accredited?
Does BAL maintain state-specific accreditations?
Can Methylmercury be Measured in Soil and Sediment Samples?
What is Mercury SSE?
What type of traps should I use for the collection of air and natural gas samples for mercury analysis, and where can I purchase them?
What sample bottle types are appropriate for low-level mercury and methylmercury water sample collection?
If I am outside of the United States, can I have water samples analyzed for elemental mercury?
Can Brooks Applied Labs analyze samples for elemental mercury?
What is the sample volume requirement for MS/MSD samples for total mercury in water by EPA Method 1631E?
What are the required preservations for mercury and methylmercury in waters?
Does BAL Support CGMP Validation Studies?
Pricing and Quotation
Who do I Contact for Current Pricing?
What are the discounts Brooks Applied Labs offer for our analytical services?
- Volume discounts starting at projects > $5,000
- Publication discounts for data which may be published in a scientific journal, presentation at a conference, poster presentation (BAL must be cited in the publication)
- Extended turn-around times for deliverables
- USFWS Contract applied discounts
Contact us for more information!
Why should BAL run Totals along with Speciation?
At BAL, we always encourage our clients to collect data on total metal concentration whenever speciation analytical services are performed. And, we strongly encourage that the total metal analysis be performed at BAL (instead of using historical data or data from a different laboratory). Why? The reduction of analytical variability plays a critical role in achieving optimal data quality. Although multiple labs may be accredited for the same analytical method, laboratory practices, from sample collection to analysis to data calculation, can vary significantly from lab-to-lab. BAL utilizes the some of the most innovative analytical instrumentation available for metals analysis and achieves detection limits that are the lowest in the industry.
BAL’s staff is here to help you select the best technique to ensure the quality and defensibility of your data. We strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss your project needs before collecting samples.
How can our clients impact BAL’s data quality?
One of the most important ways that our clients can have a direct impact on the quality of the data produced by Brooks Applied Labs (BAL) is to be great communicators! When our clients provide their BAL project manager with details regarding the specifics of the sample matrix and expected analyte concentration ranges (if known), it is very useful to our chemists in helping them determine the ideal sample handling, dilution factor, spiking levels, and interference reduction steps necessary to achieve the best possible data quality that will meet our clients’ objectives.
What do These Really Mean? MDL, DL, LOD, MRL, and LOQ
The method detection limit (MDL) is the smallest concentration of an analyte that can be measured with 99% confidence that the value is not zero. At the MDL, the false positive rate is 1% (i.e., there is only a 1% chance that the method will detect an analyte that is not present in the sample). This is also sometimes referred to as the detection limit (DL).
The NELAC Institute (TNI) defines the MDL and the limit of detection (LOD) as equivalent to each other. However, the Department of Energy / Department of Defense Quality Systems Manual (DOD/DOE QSM) specifies a different definition for the LOD: The LOD is the smallest concentration of an analyte that can be measured with 99% confidence that the value is a detect or different from the background level. At the LOD, the false negative rate is 1% (i.e., there is only a 1% chance that the method will not detect an analyte that is present above the LOD). At BAL, the LOD is used only for reporting work under the DOD/DOE QSM.
The method reporting limit (MRL) is the smallest concentration of an analyte that can be quantitatively determined with stated, acceptable precision and accuracy. The MRL cannot be lower than the lowest calibration standard. The MRL is between 2 times and 10 times the MDL, depending on the method. The MRL is often referred to as the limit of quantitation (LOQ), and these terms are considered equivalent.
What are the differences between our Level II, III, and IV reports?
What do BAL’s Data Qualifiers Mean?
|J||Detected by the instrument, the result is > the MDL but ≤ the MRL. Result is reported and considered an estimate.|
|E||An estimated value due to the presence of interferences. A full explanation is presented in the narrative.|
|H||Holding time and/or preservation requirements not met. Result is estimated.|
|J-1||Estimated value. A full explanation is presented in the narrative.|
|J-M||Duplicate precision (RPD) for associated QC sample was not within acceptance criteria. Result is estimated.|
|J-N||Spike recovery for associated QC sample was not within acceptance criteria. Result is estimated.|
|M||Duplicate precision (RPD) was not within acceptance criteria. Result is estimated.|
|N||Spike recovery was not within acceptance criteria. Result is estimated.|
|R||Rejected, unusable value. A full explanation is presented in the narrative.|
|U||Result is ≤ the MDL or client requested reporting limit (CRRL). Result reported as the MDL or CRRL.|
|X||Result is not BLK-corrected and is within 10x the absolute value of the highest detectable BLK in the batch. Result is estimated.|
For the most up-to-date list of data qualifiers, refer to the Quality Assurance page of our website.
How low are BAL’s detection limits
If you do not see the analyte/matrix combination you are looking for, simply contact us or call us directly at 206-632-6206, and one of our technical specialists will provide the detection limit and reporting limit information you need.
How low can BAL measure hexavalent chromium in water and solids?
Beyond achieving these low detection limits for hexavalent chromium, Brooks Applied Labs’ proprietary IC-ICP-MS methodology for Cr(VI) is also less prone to interferences than standard colorimetric approaches, as described in more detail here. We retain both NELAP and ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation for this method as well.
If you need testing for hexavalent chromium, please contact us today to find out how we can help!
Which Electronic Data Deliverables (EDD) does BAL offer to our clients for free?
Sample Collection and Handling
Can BAL Receive Samples on Saturdays?
Can I use Blue Ice to Keep my Samples Cold?
No. Blue Ice will not effectively keep samples at the proper temperature for the analyses. For samples that need to stay in the 0 – 4 ± 2 °C range, Brooks Applied Labs highly recommends using large bags (double-bagged) of real ice (aka “wet ice”). The ratio of samples and ice in a cooler should be about 1:1. Please ensure the bags of ice are sealed well! If a cooler is leaking water, the courier (e.g., FedEx or UPS) may refuse to deliver it!
For more information on handling samples, contact us or review our Preservation Table.
Can I Wear Sunscreen when Collecting Samples?
It depends. When collecting samples for ultra-trace level metals, it’s important to be aware of the type of sunscreen and other products you are wearing. For example, if your sunscreen contains high levels of zinc oxide, aluminum oxide, or titanium oxide (common components of physical block type sunscreens), and you are collecting samples for trace-level Zn, Al, and/or Ti, cross-contamination is a risk. To reduce the risk of contamination, wash hands and arms well prior to sampling and avoid use of products with main ingredients that contain the metals you are testing your samples for (use sunscreens with chemical barriers or wear sun protective clothing), and always wear clean-room gloves when collecting samples.
What is Trace Clean Sampling?
Trace Clean Sampling is the implementation of EPA Method 1669, also known as “Clean Hands/Dirty Hands”, sample collection procedures in concurrence with EPA 1600-series analytical methods for low-level metals and metals speciation. During the development of these methods, the EPA found that one of the greatest difficulties in obtaining reliably accurate data for metals at low-level concentrations was due to sample contamination. Therefore, samples to be analyzed by any of the low-level metals 1600-series analytical methods must also be collected according to the procedures described in EPA Method 1669. EPA Method 1669 requires special procedures to minimize and monitor for contamination, including the use of ultra-clean pre-tested sample collection containers and other field-sampling equipment, a two-person sample collection procedure (“clean hands/dirty hands”), and the collection of field quality control samples (equipment blanks, field blanks, field duplicates, etc.).
For a detailed overview of EPA Method 1669 “Clean Hands/Dirty Hands” download our Environmental Sampling for Low Level Trace Metals informational brochure.
Find out more about our EPA Method 1669 “Clean Hands/Dirty Hands” clean sampling training and consulting provided by our experienced sampling consultants!
Can BAL Provide Certified-Clean Sampling Equipment?
Yes! An essential step in developing a sampling and analysis plan is to provide evidence that the equipment being used for sample collection is free from contamination that impact the accuracy of the analytical results. Brooks Applied Labs provides services for the cleaning and testing of a wide-range of sample collection equipment (bottles, tubing, filters, etc.). In addition, BAL can provide a certificate of analysis (upon request) demonstrating that the sampling equipment has tested clean to levels that will ensure that the data quality objectives are met.
Do my Samples have to be Handled Anoxically?
How do I Best Keep my Samples Cold?
Can I make an anoxic glove box in the field?
If these more traditional options will not work for your sampling event, a relatively inexpensive anoxic chamber may be quickly assembled in the field using a large, empty cooler and some dry ice. Dry ice is frequently available at supermarkets and can ideally be purchased the day that the samples will be collected. The dry ice should be placed to cover the bottom of the large cooler, and then water should be carefully added to the cooler to submerge the dry ice approximately halfway. The dry ice will begin to sublime to gaseous carbon dioxide (CO2), which will displace any oxygen in the cooler because it is heavier than air. Once the cooler has been completely filled with the CO2 “blanket,” anoxic sample collection or manipulation may occur beneath the CO2 layer. As with any anoxic procedure, care should be taken to first purge any equipment that may contain oxygen (e.g., tubing or bottles) before sample collection takes place.
If you have any additional questions about how to properly collect your samples, please feel free to contact us directly!
What is the holding time for laboratory filtration of water samples?
What is the holding time and recommended preservation for trace metals in fresh waters to be analyzed by ICP-MS?
Do I need to wear clean gloves, and how often should I change my gloves while collecting my samples?
Why should I use "Clean Sampling"?
Can I submit my samples in a cardboard box?
Do I need to collect field blanks?
How often am I required to submit a field blank sample?
How do I keep my samples cold as the temperatures outside heat up?
What is Ultra-Trace Lab Filtration?
Sample Submittal and Receiving
How should I pack my samples?
What is BAL's Holiday Schedule?
New Year’s Day
Do you receive samples on Saturdays?
Did BAL's Shipping Address Change?
What is the recommended preservation for selenium speciation in waters?
If samples cannot be shipped to arrive within at least 48 hours after collection (e.g., due to the remoteness of the sampling location), then it is generally preferable to freeze the samples immediately after filtration. In this case the samples should then be shipped to stay frozen until received at our laboratory.
BAL staff is here to help ensure your samples are collected appropriately and can provide customized guidance to fit your needs. Please contact us before starting your next project!
Does BAL offer packages for different groups of Se Species?
- Basic Package: Se(IV) and Se(VI)
- Bonus Package: Se(IV), Se(VI), SeCN, and SeSO3
- Full Characterization: Se(IV), Se(VI), SeCN, SeSO3, SeMet, MeSe, and unknown Se species
With all packages, the analysis of total (dissolved) selenium is also critical for the evaluation of mass balance. Our technical services specialists and project management scientific staff are eager to learn more about your project and can provide you with the most appropriate analytical method options for your specific undertaking.
We are here to help, simply contact us or call us directly at 206-632-6206 to discuss your wastewater issues!
What are the different selenium species that can currently be determined in waters at BAL?
- Methyl Seleninic Acid
- Other Selenium Species are Available
How is bioavailability different from bioaccessibility when used in an environmental science context?
When does Cadmium act like a Cow?
What is the samples volume requirement for MS/MSD samples for trace metals in water by ICP-MS by EPA Method 1638 (modified)?
What are the Most Common Heavy Metals to Test for in Foods?
As people become ever more demanding about the quality of the food, beverages, and dietary supplements they purchase and consume every day, the presence of heavy metals in products (even at very low levels) has become a matter of growing concern.
Many natural ingredients accumulate small amounts of heavy metals from the environment (i.e., the soil and water), but determining exactly how much of a specific metal is in a product requires extremely sensitive analytical techniques. Perhaps even more importantly, since natural levels can often be in the low parts-per-billion range, laboratories that are not experienced with the proper analytical methods can easily contaminate samples.
At Brooks Applied Labs, we specialize exclusively in testing for heavy metals at ultra-low-levels for the environmental, energy, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Our laboratories, instruments, methods, and staff are all strictly committed to providing the most precise and accurate data for heavy metals available.
Using the latest in microwave digestion and ICP-MS technologies, we provide heavy metals testing services to companies that manufacture, distribute, and retail a variety of consumer products. Our ultra-sensitive analytical method was recently submitted to the AOAC and is currently under consideration to become an Official Method for testing food, beverages, and dietary supplements for heavy metals.
What’s the Best Method for Trace Metals in Seawaters?
Which elements does Brooks Applied Labs offer speciation testing for?
Speciation for all elements may not be available in all matrices. If you do not see your element on this list please contact us, as we are constantly developing new methods!