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Full Service Analytical Support

The Analytical Services (AS) section provides sample analysis carried out by chemists, physical scientists, aquatic biologists, and technicians.

The AS section has broad environmental analytical capabilities to analyze over 800 inorganic and organic contaminants in surface water, groundwater, waste treatment influent and effluent, biosolids, suspended sediment, aquatic bed sediment, atmospheric precipitation and aquatic plant and animal tissues. Examples of analyte classes determined include trace elements, majors, nutrients, pesticides and their degradates, pharmaceuticals, steroid hormones, surfactants, anthropogenic waste indicators, explosives, fossil-fuel residues and emissions, chlorophyll, chlorinated solvents, volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phenols, phthalates, and other chemicals used in industrial processes. Examples of physical properties include color, pH, specific conductance, radon in water, and turbidity. State-of-the-art techniques are used to make analytical determinations using approved and custom methods.

Methods Research and Development Program (MRDP)
Support Services Section (SSS)
Analytical chemistry consulting

The National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) has a highly trained workforce with a great deal of experience in creating methods for targeted compounds and in analyzing water, sediment, and tissues for a wide array of constituents.  These scientists are well respected and most have decades of experience in their respective fields of expertise.  With this background the NWQL is well positioned to ensure that the analytical objectives of our customers are accomplished in a cost effective and timely manner.

For routine USGS projects requiring analytical work NWQL consultation begins early in the project when the Principle Investigator (PI) contacts the NWQL through with a short description of the proposed project and its goals.  At that point the NWQL determines the most appropriate internal points-of-contact based on their experience and knowledge of the sampling and analysis that appears to be required by the proposed project.  The NWQL point-of-contact will then email or telephone the PI to discuss the project in greater detail to be sure that the proposed sampling and analytical processes will be appropriate to answer the objectives of the project.

When there are emergency situations such as chemical spills this process is accelerated as the PI, other federal and state agencies, NWQL personnel, and other interested parties determine what compounds might be of interest, how to properly collect sample to ensure those compounds do not degrade before analysis, what analytical methods are best to determine the presence or absence of the compounds of interest, and how best to deliver the samples to the NWQL to ensure any special handling or rush analysis procedures are carried out.