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Update to Avantor’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Environmental Testing of Air, Water, and Soil in the Lab

Environmental Testing

When it comes to reversing the negative effects of environmental hazards on human health, the first step is to identify which hazards are present in each situation.

This is where an environmental testing laboratory, in conjunction with regulators, can work together to locate and identify all potential hazards to environmental and human health through highly sophisticated and accurate testing. Avantor offers all the products and services you need for this important and substantial mission, whether it concerns water or wastewater, air, or soil.

Below, you’ll find an overview about the importance of environmental testing for air, soil and water, and the variety of lab testing supplies available.


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The importance of environmental testing

It’s well known that contaminants in the air, water, and soil can cause potentially massive harm. In many developed countries, buildings, pipe systems, and commercial spaces were built 50-60 years ago, when construction materials contained chemicals that were later banned.

Many original water distribution systems were built at a time when lead was a common ingredient in metals.

Restoring air quality is a work-in-progress around the world.

Whether you are testing water, air, or soil, we are committed to helping you accelerate your environmental testing solutions in the lab for air, water, and soil.


Environmental testing for air, water, and soil

Environment testing routinely refers to testing of water, soil and air. This includes analysis and detection of various ingredients and contaminants of water, soil and air in our micro and macro environment.

Though air, soil and water dominate environmental testing, each require differing approaches for gathering data and preparing analyses. The following sections provide additional background about testing each.


Air sampling and testing

Clean air is crucial. Air sampling is a technique for determining the presence of airborne pollutants in your surroundings. The level of microorganisms and dangerous compounds are checked using various techniques.

Air sampling is vital in any industry that sees high levels of airborne contaminants. Firefighting operations, chemical manufacturing plants, construction sites, coal mining companies and research laboratories often use air sampling to gain insight into the quality of their work environments..

Air sampling may take a couple of different forms:

  • The collection of whole air or gas "grab samples" with commercially available gas sample bags is a widely used sampling method in fields such as environmental science and industrial hygiene, as well as in a variety of laboratory and technical applications.
  • Personal air monitoring is another approach, where small personal sampling pumps or passive monitors are used to collect air contaminants through a pre-selected sorbent, filter, or collection media.

After air sampling is completed, the media is sent to the laboratory to determine time-weighted average exposure concentrations for pre-selected air contaminants recovered from the media.

Some sampling activities involve air sampling devices to be set at stationary locations, which are considered “area samples” rather than “personal samples”.

Whichever is your selected approach, Avantor provides environmental air testing equipment that can help you accomplish your environmental testing goals.


Water testing

Water testing ensures that water is safe from contaminants, suitable for its intended use and treatment systems are working well. Millions of water quality tests are done daily to satisfy regulatory requirements and preserve safety.

Labs specializing in water testing typically utilize analytical systems, instrumentation, and reagents for water quality and safety analysis. Reagents are chemical testing compounds that identify the presence of chlorine, pH, alkalinity, turbidity and other metrics.

Most water testing requires field testing equipment, in-line monitors, and high-end testing laboratory instruments. The high-end lab equipment would include Mass Spectrometry devices that conduct organic analysis (using Gas Chromatography and Liquid Chromatography) or metals analysis, using Inductively Coupled Plasma.

Avantor offers environmental water testing equipment that can help you with your needs.


Soil testing

A soil test may reveal contaminants like arsenic, mercury, or lead, or it may reveal the soil's nutritional content for agricultural use.

A soil test is crucial for several reasons, including maximizing crop production, protecting the environment from runoff and excess fertilizer leaching, assisting in the diagnosis of plant culture issues, enhancing the nutritional balance of the growing medium, and saving money and energy by using only the necessary amount of fertilizers.

Soil contamination testing is the process of screening the subsurface for signs of recent environmental impact. To illustrate, geologists work with special drilling technicians to collect discrete samples of soil, groundwater, and soil gas.

Afterward, these samples undergo laboratory testing for various industrial chemical compounds.

Lastly, a professional geologist evaluates the data and findings, to prepare a scientific report with conclusions and recommendations. Avantor provides environmental soil testing equipment that can help you with your testing requirements.

No matter what the focus of the testing lab, there are some types of equipment that any lab should have. Having the right basic equipment will allow you to move forward and meet your scientific goals. Read below for more details.


Lab essentials for environmental testing

Monitoring contaminants in the environment is crucial and yet often highly challenging. Proper environmental testing and research requires a variety of precise instruments and equipment.

The increased worldwide attention on environmental testing has heightened demand for testing instrumentation, including sensitive analytical tests to identify pesticides, hydrocarbons, and PCBs.

Key instruments used in and out of the lab include:

  • Sample prep equipment
  • Temperature chambers
  • Biofuel analyzers
  • Balances
  • Evaporators, and stability chambers
  • Particle counters, pH meters and refractometers (often in handheld versions for field testing)

For water quality testing, benchtop meters are a must-have. They’re slightly larger than portable meters and provide a bigger display screen to view test results. They also tend to offer greater sensitivity ranges than their portable counterparts. Like portable testers, benchtop meters may be specialized for a specific function, such as pH or conductivity, or they may offer a variety of testing functions from a single meter interface.

For soil testing, the saturated medium extract (SME) soil-testing method is the standard technique used in commercial soil testing labs. The standard SME method is to measure pH in the collected soil and water mix (slurry) and electrical conductivity in the filtered solution.

Some testing labs extract the solution using a vacuum pump with pH testing equipment being quite important to the process.

For air quality testing, the most needed lab tools include moisture meters, air flow monitors, thermal imaging cameras, particle counters, and video borescopes. Video borescopes use small sensors at the tip of the scope to capture video imaging. The video is then relayed to a lens and display screen for assessing air quality.

Avantor offers environmental research laboratory equipment that can help you with your important research and testing needs.


Avantor can help you meet your testing goals

A clean and safe environment is a pre-requisite for health and quality of life. Avantor contributes to this important goal by providing leading edge instruments for the testing of water, air, soil, waste and other products to assess their quality and impact on health and the environment.

Avantor can provide the guidance and equipment for all your environmental testing needs.