Frequently Asked Questions - Envirolab Services

1. Do you provide sampling bottles, jars, eskies & ice bricks?

Yes depending on the type of test you require analysis for, specific sampling containers will be required. Orders may be made on our online ordering page. You can also contact us by email or call 1300 424 344 for further information.

 

2. What is the standard turnaround time (TAT)?

This varies depending on the tests done. Routine soil testing is provided in 5 working days, although faster TAT’s may be available. Asbestos in fibro is typically provided in 2 working days. Potable water testing is, in most cases done in 7-10 workings days.

For further information, please contact us by email or call 1300 424 344.

 

3. How will I receive my results?

You will receive a single email containing a PDF report, PDF invoice, PDF COC and an Excel spreadsheet plus online reports (ESDAT, EQuIS and Monitor Pro 5 formats), if requested. You can request an SMS notification when the results have been emailed.

 

4. Do you have any other reporting formats available?

Yes – we also use ESDAT, EQuIS and Monitor Pro 5 reporting formats or we can customise a format to your needs.

 

5. What time are you open?

The opening hours vary from state to state. The major labs are generally open from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, whereas the offices are open from 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday.

  

6. Why doesn’t my Mass Balance work?

The anion and cation sums, when expressed as milliequivalents per litre, must balance because all potable waters are electrically neutral. The test is based on the percentage difference defined as:

                                 ∑ cations - ∑ anions

                                 ∑ cations ∑ anions   X 100 = % Difference

The typical acceptance criteria for potable water is quite tight (up to 5%). However, environmental laboratories normally analyse environmental ground and surface water samples, not nice clean potable waters. As a result the mass balance has been deemed acceptable up to 20% (and there may be valid reasons why a higher % is accepted).

Reasons for a not so perfect Mass balance include the following:

  1. Generally a client only asks for major cations (Na, K, Ca, Mg) and major anions (S04, Cl, Alkalinity). In most cases these major ions are sufficient to do the balance, however, if the sample contains significant levels of ions not analysed, such as Fe or ammonia, then the balance will not work.
  2. Labs generally conduct cations on a filtered sample and anions on an unfiltered sample. If the sample contains sediment or colloidal particulates then this may impact the balance.

 

7. Why is there Zinc in my Trip Blank?

Laboratories use food grade containers for samples. Unfortunately these bottles and lids contain zinc. As labs generally pre-preserve bottles with nitric acid, this acid leaches out the zinc. We have found that the amount of zinc varies with different batches of bottles.

 

8. What is the difference between mg/L and ppm for soil and water results?

There is no difference as the results are the same whether mg/kg and ppm.

 

9. What is the difference between Total and dissolved Metals?

Dissolved metals are filtered prior to analysis to remove the particulate matter. This is typically performed on groundwater. Total metals are performed on the sample as received and is generally tested on surface water, trade waste and potable water samples.

  

10. What bottle do I need for taking a water sample?

There are a variety of bottles that are used for water samples, please take a look at the preservation chart that can be downloaded from Resources tab.

For example to test TPH/BTEX/Lead in groundwater we will require 2x40mL VOC vials preserved with Hydrochloric Acid, 1x1L amber and 1x100ml plastic bottle preserved with Nitric Acid (field filtered).

Envirolab will supply appropriately preserved containers. Please contact one of our Customer Service Team for advice or to place an order.

 

11. What container do I need for taking soil samples?

Most samples can be placed into a 250ml glass jar with a Teflon lined lid. An additional zip lock bag containing a large handful of soil should be provided if asbestos testing is required.

Envirolab will supply appropriately preserved containers. Please contact our Customer Service Team on how to place an order or general enquiries.

 

12. How much volume?

The volume required depends on the test and the detection limit required. Since volume is really only an issue for water samples, refer to the preservation chart for more detail or contact one of our Customer Service staff.

 

13. Why do I need to take a separate sample for asbestos in soil?

As asbestos contamination can be very non-homogenous, it is very difficult to take a representative sub-sample. In order to have your results reported to the Australian Standard you will need to supply an individual sample to be tested solely for asbestos. This must be around 40 grams.

 

14. When will my results be ready?

Our standard turnaround for routine contaminated site testing is 5 working days. Fast turnaround can be performed with a surcharge, and results will be reported on or before close of business of the requested day.

 

15. Can I get the total PAH reported?

There are a few ways to calculate the total PAHs. Until industrial regulations concerning how PAH should be calculated are implemented, it is Envirolab policy not to report total PAH.

 

16. What is the difference between aromatic/aliphatic hydrocarbons and TPH?

TPH is normally tested first. If the level is over the guidelines, it may be useful to speciate to determine what the aromatic and aliphatic portion is.

 

17. What are the holding times?

Each test has a specified holding time set by Australian Standards, NEPM, etc.

Refer to the preservation chart for more information. Some tests must be performed on the day of sampling so care must be taken to deliver the samples promptly to the lab to allow sufficient time for testing.

  

18. Can I still analyse my samples outside of the holding time?

You may test a sample outside of the holding time but it it may give an incorrect result. In addition, the result may not be accepted by an auditor. Analytes can change rapidly due to biological changes in the sample and therefore, influence the testing. In our experience, stable parameters such as heavy metals can be tested outside of holding times and still obtain reliable results. However, this is done at your risk.

 

19. Can I get TCLP done in 24 hours?

Yes, metals and PAHs can be conducted in 24 hours. However, we would be able to perform a maximum of 20 in one day. Results would be reported late in the day.

 

20. Why is my PQL raised?

Sometimes the matrix interferes with the determination of specific components. Consequently the PQL needs to be raised to a level that we are confident to report.

The PQL may also be raised if an insufficient amount of the sample is supplied to perform the test according to validated procedures.