Western Environmental
Testing Laboratory
Featured in the Northern Nevada Business Weekly – Kat Langford Promoted to Lab Manager at WETLAB

Congratulations to Kat Langford on her promotion to lab manager! Read more about Kat below!

Michelle Sherven, president of Sparks-based Western Environmental Testing Laboratory (WETLAB), announced this month the promotion of Kat Langford to lab manager of the Las Vegas office.

Langford has 10 years of experience in environmental laboratory testing, according to an April 6 press release.

She will be responsible for overseeing daily office and laboratory operations, conducting lab testing, administering proficiency testing and maintaining training records for employees.

Previously, Langford was a part of the client services department at WETLAB, an environmental testing laboratory company that provides comprehensive analytical support on a variety of matrices and testing to comply with numerous programs.

Langford received a Bachelor of Science in nutrition/deictics and public health from the University of Nevada, Reno. She is an active volunteer for the Veterans Guest House.

Get a sneak peek at our new lab. More details to come.

WETLAB is a certified environmental testing laboratory, specializing in organic and inorganic testing.  Our goal is to provide high quality, legally defensible data.  As a certified laboratory, we assume the responsibility of providing results that are accurate, reliable, reproducible, and valid for compliance monitoring.  We work to meet our clients’ needs and meet or exceed local, state, and federal regulations for environmental testing.  In order to meet our client and regulatory obligations, it is important to understand that a test result is only as good as the sampling and handling that was performed before analysis.

The test containers, preservation, and hold times can be found in from the EPA under 40CFR, part 136, Table II – Required containers, Preservation Techniques, and Hold Times.

Sample integrity begins with sample collection.  Start with a sampling plan: know the test parameters required from your permit to ensure you have the correct sample bottle(s). Follow the regulatory requirements to know where you will be collecting samples, how you will collect them (grab or composite), and how and when samples will be stored and transported to the lab.

Sample labels are extremely important for traceability.  Completely fill out the date and time of sample collection, site of collection, initials of sampler, if sample is filtered, and any field measurements or observations that are client specific.

Transportation of samples isn’t always recognized as integral to sample integrity, but in fact it is one of the most important steps. The transfer of samples is an important time where preservation begins, and the utmost care should be taken to prevent contamination and degradation. Consider sealing the samples in a plastic bag or bucket with an airtight lid.  Begin the chilling process immediately by placing samples on ice, blue-ice, or ice packs and place samples in a dark location, preferably a cooler, to minimize exposure to light. Separate wastewater samples from drinking water by placing them in different coolers or individual zip lock bags.  If shipping samples, make sure they are packed with sufficient ice to remain cool during the duration of transit.

Provide a completed Chain of Custody (COC) document when relinquishing samples to the laboratory.  The COC is a legally defensible document with information specific to the sampling plan, sample information, and transfer of custody to the laboratory.  WETLAB’s digital COC can be found online at https://www.wetlaboratory.com/forms/

Sample bottles are provided by the laboratory at no charge, making it easy for you to ensure you are using the correct containers.  To request a bottle kit, submit a request to WETLAB here https://www.wetlaboratory.com/bottle-order-form/ .

The containers will be specific to the sample matrix (water, soil, sludge, or other) and the testing requirements outlined in your permit. The correct bottles will contain the correct preservative and allow for the proper sample volume. The containers are made of a material that is chemically resistant to pollutants, have lids that seal to prevent contamination, and are clean and free of contaminants.  Sample containers vary in color, material, and size.  They may be glass or plastic, clear or opaque, 500ml bottles to 1-liter cubitainer.  When collecting the sample, place the lid with the top side down, as not to contaminate the side that may be in contact with the sample.  Do not rinse out the bottle because there may be a preservative in it. Fill the bottle with the amount indicated on the instructions provided with the bottle kit. Do not overfill the bottles to avoid removal of any preservative present in the bottle.

When collecting samples, use the appropriate bottles provided by the laboratory to ensure sufficient volume is provided for the parameters of interest, the number of analytes being tested, and the sample matrix.  The sample volume should be easy for transport, large enough to be a representative sample from the material from which it was sampled, and sufficient to provide the laboratory the ability to split the sample, perform repeat analysis, and adequately run quality control samples.

Sample preservation will hold a sample as close to its natural state and maintain it as representative of the material from which it was sampled.  Sample preservation protects a sample from natural biological or chemical degradation.  If a sample is not preserved properly the natural biological and chemical consistency of the matrix can change the chemistry and compromise the sample.  For example, pH can change in minutes, volatile compounds may be lost, bacteria can decompose constituents, and chemical reactions may change the analytes of interest into a different species (for example NO2 can oxidize to NO3).  There are different types of preservation: thermal (cooling to <6 degrees C), chemical preservation (sodium thiosulfate to dechlorinate samples), pH control (adding nitric acid to metals containers to lower pH or NaOH to CN raise pH), and the bottle type if it is amber or opaque (minimize exposure to light which can degrade certain compounds).

The specific bottle types and chemical preservatives are supplied in a bottle kit order.  The one factor of sample preservation that is specifically the client’s responsibility is cooling the samples. Temperature guidelines are consistent for all sample matrices.  Samples should be received on ice, and if samples are received more than one day after sampling, they should be received at less than 6 degrees Celsius (42 degrees Fahrenheit). Failure to meet these guidelines may result in samples marked as “non-compliant.”

The hold time for a test begins at the time of collection. Therefore, it is important to know how long it will take for a sample to be received by the laboratory once collected since tests have varying hold times.  A hold time may be measured in minutes, hours, days, or months, depending on the constituent of interest.  A hold time is intended to ensure analysis begins within a certain timeframe that maintains the true representation of the sample. It limits potential chemical degradation and biodegradation caused from the natural makeup of the sample.  If analysis is performed past the hold time, the analytical data will be flagged with a qualifier to represent the failed quality control for sample integrity.  The best practice is to analyze a sample as soon as possible; the shorter time elapsed between collection and analysis will lead to more reliable results.

 

If you have any questions regarding sample integrity and proper sample handling, please contact us today, https://www.wetlaboratory.com/contact/.

The objective of WETLAB is to produce the highest quality data. This means our data is accurate, precise, legally defensible, and meets our client’s data requirements in a timely and cost-effective manner. Our quality assurance program provides guidelines and rules to ensure that all data produced meets or exceeds WETLAB standards. The laboratory ensures the maintenance of the controlled analytical processes.  The quality assessment program incorporates all the necessary elements to ensure that the quality control system is functioning effectively.

Implemented by the Quality Assurance (QA) department, this program includes documentation of validation and statistical control processes, and periodic verification and inspection of methods performed.  The QA department is comprised of highly skilled and detail-oriented technical scientists with backgrounds in biology, chemistry, public health, and environmental sciences. These scientists oversee data management, data quality, and adherence to Standard Operating Procedures & Methods, which is fundamental to managing WETLAB’s certifications.

WETLAB is committed to continuous improvement and to providing high-quality analytical services. Our staff believes that meeting the needs of our clients is the most important service we can provide.  The QA department is essential to this process by making sure the data reported is of the highest quality with the best lab practices, and good, reproducible science.

As always, our team is here to help. If you need assistance with permit interpretation, our project management staff is ready and available. Send us your permit and after review, we can issue the bottles and provide needed information to collect and submit your samples to us within applicable guidelines. The first step of successful sampling is to ensure the correct bottles and preservatives are used and that the samples are stored and transported at the correct temperature once collected.

WETLAB is able to help alleviate some of the logistics involved in the process. We offer courier sample pick up and/or bottle kit drop off at all three of our locations.

For more information regarding sample scheduling or planning or if you have any questions regarding sample scheduling, planning, or permit review please reach out to one of our team members in your location.

Logan Greenwood – Client Services Manager (Sparks) – logang@wetlaboratory.com

Phaedra Harmening – Lab Manager (Elko) – phaedrah555@gmail.com

Lisa Mason – Lab Manager (Las Vegas) – lisam@wetlaboratory.com

Meet Hollie and Kat, our Project Management team. Our project managers are our client advocates, here to offer creative solutions and provide accurate data. Establishing relationships and understanding the needs of each client is one of the roles that make this department stand apart.

The primary focuses of this team are to manage correspondence with WETLAB clients and review work orders for accuracy after the sample log-in process is complete at each of our locations. The department sends client reporting, creates analytical quotes, oversees subcontracted work, performs data uploads using Equis or Lab-To-State software, and completes operational functions required for the testing process to progress smoothly.

Hollie and Kat stay on top of the ever-evolving state and federal guidelines and work with clients to ensure they are informed of any changes and are executing sampling to the required standards.

Meet Hollie. Her favorite part of her job is getting to know the clients and helping them with their needs. A lover of all things outdoors, Hollie enjoys camping, fishing and hunting, as well as gardening, cooking, canning and crafting. She has a several pets, including a dog, a leopard gecko, an aquatic turtle and an Emperor Scorpion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Kat. Kat loves meeting clients and believes that understanding their business makes WETLAB a more valuable partner. Outside of her role at WETLAB, Kat loves to stand up paddleboard and even worked with her dog this summer to get her comfortable on the board, as well as the kayak.

 

 

 

 

 

2020 was a year of significant, unprecedented change and upheaval in nearly every aspect of our lives.  With everything going on, it is easy to miss what changed in the world of environmental regulations.  We will review three of those regulatory alterations that took place in 2020.

Lead and Copper Rule Updates

The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) was adopted nearly 30 years ago to protect the public against lead contamination in public drinking water systems.  The tragic situation in Flint, MI helped place lead contamination back in focus, and the EPA updated the LCR to address some of the shortcomings of the rule. Lead exposure has negative long-term health effects on children, and the new LCR requires that all Public Water Systems (PWS) test for lead in the water supply of schools and childcares that they serve.  In addition to testing at certain facilities, PWS must collect samples at homes and buildings known to have lead-based service lines.  All samples must now be collected on the fifth liter, meaning that four liters must be drawn before the actual sample is collected to ensure that the water is coming from the lead-based service line and not the internal plumbing of the building.

The EPA lowered the action level for lead contamination to 15ppb, which is used to measure the effectiveness of a PWS corrosion control program.  Exceeding 15ppb will not result in an exceedance violation, but additional action may be required that could result in a violation being issued. In addition, the allowable timeframe for addressing exceedances has been lowered significantly.  If a PWS without a corrosion control program reports a result of 10ppb or greater, they will be required to quickly implement approved corrosion control treatment.

More information can be found via the EPA here: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water

Perchlorate in Drinking Water

The EPA issued final action regarding perchlorate in drinking water, stating that the constituent no longer meets the criteria for being a regulated drinking water contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Reported perchlorate concentrations in drinking water have significantly decreased since becoming a regulated contaminant, due to many factors including mitigation strategies in highly contaminated areas, improved storage of hypochlorite solutions, and some state level drinking water regulations.

Although the EPA will no longer be regulating perchlorate concentrations, it is important to note that state and local authorities still may.  Smaller jurisdiction regulations are often more stringent than federal rules, so it is imperative that you talk to your regulator prior to making any changes in sampling.

Methods Update Rule 2019

In 2019, the EPA proposed an update to the Clean Water Act Methods Rule for the analysis of effluent.  Although this rule was supposed to be adopted in 2020, it is still in proposed status as of early 2021.  When adopted, this rule will allow for changes to some test procedures when analyzing wastewater and environmental samples for some contaminants. This rule will also allow for some technological advances, which have previously not been approved, to be used. When this update is adopted, we will share further changes and clarifications.

We are pleased to announce we have added the ‘Ammonia Nitrogen by Timberline’ certification! Read more from the Northern Nevada Business Weekly below!

SPARKS, Nev. — Western Environmental Testing Laboratory (WETLAB) announced in late December testing abilities at the company’s Sparks laboratory have been expanded with the addition of the “Ammonia Nitrogen by Timberline” certification.

According to a Dec. 28 press release, WETLAB is now certified in Nevada to analyze the measurement of ammonia in surface, ground, storm runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater and saline waters.

“This procedure takes between one and half to two and half minutes per sample analysis,” according to the release. “Additionally, without distillation of the samples, this allows for rapid determination and a wide dynamic range to meet clients’ regulatory detection requirements.”

Per the release, the test takes samples of ammonia nitrogen and preserves them with sulfuric acid to a pH <2 in order to convert all of the dissolved ammonia into the stable ionized NH4+ form.

“During the analysis, NH4+ is converted back to NH3 (g) by raising the pH with a strong base. The ammonia gas is passed through a hydrophobic membrane to determine the ammonia concentration in aqueous solutions,” according to WETLAB. “These samples should be collected in a plastic or glass container and preserved with Sulfuric Acid pH <2 and refrigerated at 2°-6° C. Samples that are preserved upon collection have a 28-day hold time.”

 

WETLAB is excited to announce we have recently expanded our mercury laboratory. This expansion will allow us to house our two Cold Vapor Atomic Absorption (CVAA) mercury analyzers that detect trace levels of mercury in a variety of  materials including:

  • EPA 245.1- drinking water, surface water, groundwater, and wastewater
  • EPA 7470 – mobility-procedure extracts, aqueous waters, and groundwaters
  • EPA 7471 – soils, sediments, and sludges

This expansion has provided us with more space in our main trace metals lab and will allow us to continue to grow and expand.

WETLAB held two virtual learning seminars in June; one focused on sample integrity and discussed sample bottles and preservatives, collection techniques, and hold times. The second seminar featured a guide to understanding a report including the results, data flags, report comments, and laboratory quality control.

We are happy to host our third virtual learning seminar this fall! This seminar will discuss sample temperatures and transports dos and don’ts. These seminars feature a 30-minute presentation, along with a 15-minute Q&A session. If you are interested in participating or to receive updates about upcoming seminars, please email Logan at logang@wetlaboratory.com.

Have a specific topic in mind for an upcoming seminar? Email us info@wetlaboratory.com with your topic today!