Question: Where do you send air grab samples to for testing?

stevie is asking a question about air-sampling
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by stevie | October 19, 2017 20:12 | #15069

I'm wondering if there are certain labs people use for testing air grab samples? What do I need to look for in a place that offers testing? Are there any certifications that we should look for when picking a lab? Also, are there labs that are more cost effective - for example if we were to go through a university?


Yes, but the common way it is done is with gas chromatography (GC) or some variation like gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In industry, these are called the hyphenated techniques. This is usually expensive. There are a bunch of possible certifications. It depends on exactly what purpose the data will be used for.

Universities will usually do it. It needs to be one that has the equipment you need.

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To give a few more details, a general lab certification is a2la ( american association of lab accreditation). Think that's right.

There has been a push for globalization. So instead of testing to each nations specifications, you would only test to one. The general nomenclature for these is ISO tests. For example Iso 9001. But they are expensive to get certified for. So not all labs get them.

There are also individual test methods. Does the lab test to the test method needed? It should not be just a yes. It should be a yes and we test to section or method .....

To make things worse, most universities don't have these certifications.

Hopefully, This gets you started.

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For the bucket monitor I think we want to be looking for air labs specifically. We may want to use the a2la certification to try to narrow it down. Here is some recent information I got talking to the folks at Atmospheric Analysis in CA:

  • In the United States, not every lab that does environmental testing will automatically test air samples and there seems to be significant variation in terms of the type of sampling that air labs will do. For instance, air labs seem to make individual calls as to which methods they support. Not all labs are planning to roll out the new TO-15a protocols; some will do both TO-14a and TO-15- test specific chemicals within that method (so it's important to ask)
  • Within a given method, labs may only test a subset of chemicals (so it's important to ask)
  • in the United States there is no national air accreditation; labs are accredited state by state, environmental labs that want to do air work have to go through states (Oregon and Florida both do it) for air certification.
  • it's not a given that a lab will do air, soil, and water -- and in some cases, the testing thresholds for labs that do all three or two of three may need to be higher because of potential cross-contamination

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