Sample Collection is the first, and perhaps the most important step in the analytical process. Poor sampling inhibits the labs ability to produce representative data of a sampling source. Sampling is comprised of 5 main steps:
1. Create a Field Sampling Plan
2. Contact lab to order bottle kit and discuss any scheduling complications
3. Conduct sampling following instructions from Field Sampling Plan and the lab
4. Release Custody of Samples to the lab, or a third party shipper
5. Review Sample Receipt to ensure correct analyses are ordered
What do each of these steps mean? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Field Sampling Plan- This is necessary to succeed in sampling, and generally should include the following:
2. Ordering Bottles and Scheduling Sampling- Call us to order your sample containers. The bottles provided will be bagged together into “sets” to keep each site organized. A cooler will also be provided. The lab will generally need the following information:
Depending on the situation, more coordinating and information may be required! For example:
Courier Pick Up or Drop Off– If you need sample containers dropped off at your site or picked up from a courier, it is wise to plan sampling around your labs standard courier routes. You can find WETLAB’s standard courier schedule here.
Sample Shipping– If samples are being shipped to or from a remote location, consider the amount of time samples will be in transit. If you are sending short-hold samples, selecting a “next day delivery” option may be necessary.
Subcontracted Work– Most subcontracting is shipped to southern CA and NV, therefore, factor this extra time in transit when making your sample plan. Furthermore, avoid delivering samples requiring subcontracting on Fridays, as they cannot ship out until the following Monday.
Weekend Work– Weekend work is not ideal, however, it is sometimes unavoidable! It is important, however, to notify your lab as soon as possible about weekend work so that staff can be scheduled to accommodate the request.
3. Sampling- Once the game plan is set, it is time to execute your sampling project.
4. Releasing Custody of Samples- An additional responsibility of a sampler is properly documenting sample information and signing for any change of sample custody. The analytical Chain of Custody (or COC) is a required legal document submitted with samples to the laboratory. This document is a requirement for any sample submission to a lab, and serves numerous purposes:
5. Review Sample Receipt- WETLAB can send you an electronic “ sample receipt” which will list the entered information from your Chain of Custody, the receiving conditions of your samples (including anomalies), and an itemized list of all the analytical testing slated for your samples.
This is the final check before the testing will commence, so it’s important to review as soon as possible and contact the lab with any questions or concerns.
Contact WETLAB at (775)355-0202 to discuss your sampling requirements and project needs.
What is a holding time, and why do I need to know about it? A “holding time” is the elapsed amount of time from the point of collection to the moment of preparation or analysis. Note that this is not the date/time of receipt at the lab! If samples are analyzed beyond an analytical holding time, the data will be qualified on the analytical report and may not be usable for compliance.
The analytical hold time to a sample is like an expiration date to a carton of milk; past the hold time, analysis technically can still be performed (just as milk may be consumed after it expires), the results, however, in both cases may be unsavory. There are very few allowances for missed hold times and in almost every case, resampling is required.
You should get samples to the lab as quickly as possible, as holding times are different for volume received unpreserved. For example, metals shrink from 6 months to 7 days, nutrients from 28 days to 48 hours, others hold times may even shrink to 24 hours or less! Find out more about preservatives and sample bottles here.
Holding times are easily accessible, as the information is constantly needed (and important!):
From WETLAB’s website here
From the EPA under 40CFR, part 136, Table II
From the NDEP website here
Or, get a hard copy sheet on your next stop into WETLAB
Be aware, hold times can change as methods are updated, so you should contact WETLAB for the most up to date information before you develop your sampling plan.
What is a preservative, and why is it important? According to the EPA, methods of preservation are relatively limited and are intended generally to (1) retard biological action, (2) retard hydrolysis of chemical compounds and complexes, (3) reduce volatility of constituents, and (4) reduce absorption effects.
In other words, the purpose of a preservative is to “freeze” the sample chemistry at the point of sampling so that what gets analyzed at the lab is as similar to the source as possible, despite the unavoidable delay between the sampling and analysis.
Some common preservatives include:
However, the most important, but often overlooked, preservative is ice. Keeping a sample cold (between 2-6C) is a requirement for nearly every analytical test we perform EXCEPT for metals analysis. It is generally preferable to use wet ice instead of ice packs when possible.
Sample containers, just like preservatives, are designed to inhibit the natural chemical changes which will occur in a sample as time passes. In addition to that, sample containers also serve a few other purposes:
But how do I know which sample bottle and preservative to use? Simple, you ask the lab! By contacting WETLAB before you begin your sampling process, you will help ensure that you use the correct bottle and preservative. Our staff can also help you review your permit making sure the correct samples are taken at the correct time of the year (DPBs, LCR, SOCs), and making sure the correct methods are used for your sample matrix (drinking water, waste water, haz waste). We can even help with sampling requirements making sure your samples are collected as intended by your permit (LCR first draw, grab vs. composite), saving you valuable time that can be lost from unintended mistakes.
Be aware, preservatives and hold times are dictated by the analytical method and enforced by state/federal agencies and the laboratory. Cyanide species, Volatile Organics, Dissolved Oxygen, Bacteria, SOCs, DBPs, and many other tests absolutely require correct bottles and preservatives to analyze for compliance.
Contact WETLAB at (775)355-0202 to discuss your sampling needs. Our seasoned staff can help you determine which samples you need, how they need to be collected, and provide you with all the right bottles and preservatives to make sure your procedures remain in compliance.
In our blog posts Lessons From the Lab we answer frequently asked questions from clients. Find all installments of Lessons From the Lab here.
Cyanide sampling requirements have become stricter over the years. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) issued guidance in October of 2015 that cyanide analysis must be collected correctly in the field so as not to have samples rejected by the analytical laboratory, or by the state due to incorrect sampling procedures.
NDEP stated, “If you are analyzing Cyanide samples for compliance with a Nevada program, (SDWA, CWA, RCRA, Mining) samples must be collected as described below (ASTM D-7365-09). Data obtained from samples not collected as described in ASTM D-7365-09 will be rejected.”
“ASTM D-7365-09 8.2.1 states that sample containers shall be made of materials that will not contaminate the sample, cleaned thoroughly to remove all extraneous surface contamination prior to use. Chemically resistant glass containers as well as rigid plastic containers made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) are suitable. Samples should be collected and stored in amber gas tight vials or narrow mouth bottles to minimize exposure to ultraviolet radiation and to minimize headspace in the sample containers (for example, amber open top VOA vials, amber Boston round bottles, or amber narrow-mouth HDPE bottles).”
“All certified Laboratories must reject samples not collected in suitable containers.”
What does this mean? All samples, regardless of matrix (drinking water, wastewater, ground water, surface water, aqueous, soil, sludge, etc.), must be collected in an amber narrow mouth container to minimize UV radiation exposure and to minimize headspace in sample containers. Samples not collected in the correct containers must be rejected by the laboratory and the sample should be collected in the correct containers, as described above. Furthermore, as dictated by the method cited by NDEP, chemical preservation is also required for aqueous samples. Aqueous samples must be preserved with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to pH >10 at the time of collection, and then chilled on ice.
At WETLAB, we provide the appropriate bottles and preservative (NaOH) needed for your cyanide analysis, and are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding cyanide sampling containers.
Please call us at any at 775-355-0202 to request sample containers.
At WETLAB we try to give back to our community in a variety of ways, and we try to honor and participate in causes that are near and dear to our employees hearts. The Northern Nevada Breastfeeding Coalition (NNBC) is front and center in some of our employees minds, because of their impact on the lives of infants and mothers. Below, one of our employees shares her experience with NNBC and their annual race/ fundraiser event, the Liquid Gold 5k.
The Northern Nevada Breastfeeding Coalition (NNBC) is a member of the Maternal Child Health Coalition of Northern Nevada, which is a non-profit organization that supports women and children. The NNBC aims to normalize breastfeeding and increase community awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding. We also offer resources to moms who need support or help when they want to breastfeed.
The Northern Nevada Breastfeeding Coalition (NNBC) held our 8th annual fundraiser, the Liquid Gold 5K Run/Walk on Saturday August 4th, 2018, and our 6th annual “Big Latch On!” The Big Latch On is a worldwide event which pairs mothers and their children in breastfeeding together for one minute. These events served as our community’s kick-off to World Breastfeeding Week, and were intended to promote community awareness and gain support for normalizing breastfeeding in Northern Nevada.
The events took place on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno and were enjoyed by families, friends, vendors, and volunteers! Volunteers participated in a volunteer training the night before the race, marked the course, and helped create posters for the race. The day of the event volunteers were responsible for set up and cleaning up, assisting at the registration table, race guides on the course, and collecting survey information. It was thanks to the volunteers that helped make our event a success!
If you are interested in learning more about the NNBC, please visit our website (https://nnbc.wildapricot.org/), or join us the first Tuesday of every month from 12:00pm – 1:00pm at The Children’s Cabinet located at 1090 S. Rock Blvd, Reno, NV 89502.
You can also check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nevadabreastfeeds.org/
We are pleased to announce Kathleen (Kat) Langford has joined the Client Services team as an additional Project Manager at WETLAB. Kat has worked as a Wet Chemistry and Geochemistry Laboratory Technician with WETLAB and a Laboratory and Logistic Coordinator at Desert Research Institute.
As a project manager, Kat will be another point of contact at WETLAB to help coordinate projects, provide quotes, send reports, prepare invoices, provide job status information, and assist with general questions.
Kat studied nutrition/ dietetics and public health at the University of Nevada, Reno. She also has volunteered with the Veterans Guest House, assisting with special events and fundraising.
Please help us welcome her to the team. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.
WETLAB is pleased to announce a new certification. We have expanded our testing abilities, and are now certified in Nevada to analyze Total Organic Carbon (TOC) by SM5310C. Total Organic Carbon (TOC) is a measurement of organic or carbon-based contaminants in water that come from a variety of sources. SM 5310C uses a UV-Persulfate TOC analyzer to measure total organic carbon in drinking water, surface water, ground water, and waste water.
At WETLAB, we are constantly trying new ideas, methods, and analyses to better serve our clients. Contact us at (775) 355-0202 to find out how our new, in-house TOC analysis can help you get the environmental testing results you need.
WETLAB has been participating in Snapshot Day for over a decade! Snapshot Day is coordinated by the Bureau of Water Quality Planning within the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP). Snapshot Day occurs annually and is a two-day event where the Urban Truckee River portion of the watershed is sampled from the outlet at Lake Tahoe to its end at Pyramid Lake. That’s more than 105 miles! Snapshot Day is an event that involves the community and education outreach; volunteers from local businesses and organizations spend their time teaching students throughout the Tahoe and Truckee Basin about conservation, ecology, hydrology, environmental stewardship, and water quality. In addition, site facilitators conduct a stream walk for habitat assessment and sample collection for field and laboratory testing. In conjunction with NDEP, these small groups help create a larger picture of the health of the Basin and watershed. This provides longitudinal data that helps identify possible sources of pollution or other contamination and information for community planning and development.
On Friday, May 18th 2018, WETLAB volunteered for the 18th Annual Snapshot Day. Our sampling site was part of the Lower Truckee River at Whites Creek on the campus of Mountain View Montessori School. As facilitators, we had the opportunity to teach 4th & 5th grade students about the importance of a healthy watershed, water quality, field testing methods, the water cycle, and environmental sustainability. We were excited to provide a hands-on learning experience to stimulate interest and stewardship while learning about pollution, invasive species, the water cycle, and procedures for field testing. We also emphasized the importance of observation and protection of our unique water resources.
Arsenic is a well-known inorganic element, and it is one of the many routinely monitored contaminants in drinking water. WETLAB tests for Arsenic in drinking water through EPA Method 200.7 and 200.8. But how does Arsenic make its way into drinking water, and what are the potential health effects from increased Arsenic load?
The EPA requires that ground water systems monitor for Arsenic every three years, and surface water systems every year. These frequencies may be increased if Arsenic is found to be at or above the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level), defined as 10ppb (parts per billion). This MCL was lowered from 50ppb in 2001 to better protect public health.
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in soils and rocks, and is also a by-product of several industrial and agricultural processes. Drinking water contamination can occur from naturally eroding deposits, and from runoff of various processes. Some water will be naturally higher in Arsenic due to the rocks and soils that make up the aquifer. Arsenic contamination can be treated in many ways, including Iron treatment and adsorption, which helps precipitate Arsenic out of water.
Ingesting water with Arsenic levels greater than the MCL can cause adverse health effects if the water is consumed for many years. These health effects include skin damage, circulatory problems, and an increased risk of various cancers.
To find out more about Arsenic in drinking water, visit this guide, published by the EPA.
WETLAB hosted the first annual Victory Run 5k and Family Fun Run benefitting the Veteran’s Guest House on May 6th. With the amazing support and participation of our community, WETLAB donated over $13,000 to VGH! Over 120 people participated in (and finished!) this great event.
We couldn’t have made this race happen without our generous sponsors.
Join us next year for another great event!