Lab Science News - Science, chemistry and environmental news from laboratory experts

Posts Tagged ‘ALS Environmental’

Qualitative Aspects of Environmental Testing for Organic Parameters – An Overlooked Facet of Data Quality

Monday, May 27th, 2013

By Lee Wolf, Regulatory Affairs Manager, ALS Environmental – USA

One may look at classical wet chemistry and the pioneering chemists and wonder. What were they really doing? What were they looking for? Discovering tests for isolating and identifying chemical components was the purpose. One cannot envision that accuracy and precision, or detection limits were of much concern. Fast-forward to the infancy of environmental testing and one can still find the identification of chemical components of utmost importance in developing methods and technology.

Currently, and for recent years, the focus of environmental measurements has predominately been on quantitative aspects. Significant emphasis is now put on detection limits, quantitation limits, accuracy and precision, and uncertainty of measurements. That is, an emphasis on sensitivity over selectivity, both in terms of data quality and data usability. Yet fundamentally, the targeted component(s) of a sample must first be accurately identified before accurate quantitation can occur.

In this paper, the shift in focus from selectivity to sensitivity in the analysis of organic compounds will be discussed and potentially overlooked qualitative data quality considerations examined. Examples of the reliance on standard methodologies and how they can lead to qualitative errors is examined, and how the need for a strong understanding of method selectivity and the use of qualitative tools is important.

Read more about Qualitative Aspects of Environmental Testing…

Ammonia: All You’ve Ever Wanted To Know

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

By Mark Hugdahl, Technical Director,  ALS Environmental – Canada

The synthetic production of ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process has been called the most important invention of the 20th century. Fritz Haber received the Nobel prize in 1919 for pioneering the “fixation” of nitrogen, where nitrogen gas is converted to ammonia, a reactive form of nitrogen that can easily be taken up by plants. Nitrogen from synthetic fertilizers now provides more than half of the nutrients required by the world’s crops. Without the ammonia produced from the Haber-Bosch process, our planet could not feed seven billion people.

Ammonia plays a key role in the global nitrogen cycle, and is produced naturally through the decomposition of nitrogen-rich organic matter. However, it is also a very common environmental pollutant, and in 1990 was listed as the top priority on Environment Canada’s Canadian Chemical Spill Priority List. Outside the fertilizer industry, anthropogenic point sources of ammonia include the textile industry, household chemicals, explosives, the plastics industry, oil refineries, iron and steel mills, meat processing plants, and sewage treatment plants.

At low levels, ammonia in drinking water is not considered toxic to humans. It is produced naturally in the human body, and is efficiently targeted and detoxified by specific enzymes. However, ammonia is highly toxic to fish and amphibians at very low concentrations, since they lack these enzymes.

Read more about Ammonia…