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Sanitary Chemistry

The Sanitary Chemistry laboratory is a component of the Laboratory of Inorganic and Nuclear Chemistry, which is the EPA-designated primacy laboratory for NY State, responsible for analyzing water, solid waste, and air samples submitted by state agencies and local health departments for a variety of inorganic environmental contaminants.

Analysis/tests routinely performed:

  • Analysis of potable water for: physical analytes – color and odor; minerals – alkalinity, conductivity, chloride, sulfate; anions – fluoride, nitrate, nitrite, ortho phosphorous; disinfection by-products – chlorite, chlorate, bromate, bromide; solids – total dissolved, total suspended, total residual chlorine, pH, silica, total cyanide, total organic carbon, turbidity and UV 254.
  • Analysis of non-potable water for: physical analytes – color; minerals – alkalinity, conductivity, chloride, sulfate; nutrients – fluoride, nitrate, nitrite, ortho phosphorous, total phosphorous, ammonia, total Kjeldahl nitrogen; solids – total dissolved, total suspended, total; demand – biochemical oxygen, chemical, total organic carbon; anionic surfactants; oil and grease; total phenols; residual chlorine; pH; silica; total cyanide; turbidity; sulfide.
  • Analysis of solid waste for total cyanide and hexavalent chromium
  • Analysis of surface wipes for lead

Accreditation: The laboratory is accredited as NELAP – E37911, NYS ELAP – 10762, and EPA – NY00005 for the determination of various inorganic contaminants in potable water, nonpotable water, soil and air.

Proficiency Testing: The laboratory provides validation data on Proficiency Testing samples for NYS ELAP in both water and solid matrices.  Proficiency Test samples are used to assess the performance of environmental laboratories that test for inorganic contaminants in potable water, non-potable water, and soil matrices using approved methods.  Additional information, including a full list of PT offerings, and applications can be found at the ELAP web page.

Academic Programs: Several laboratory staff may have academic appointments in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences of the University at Albany’s School of Public Health.  Graduate courses in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology are co-taught by laboratory staff, and programs leading to the MS, MPH and PhD degrees are supported through mentoring and providing research opportunities.  Staff members are also active in the Wadsworth Center’s Masters in Laboratory Science Program, providing students with invaluable experience and knowledge of the operation of a major public health laboratory.  Opportunities for high school students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, chemist aides, and laboratory technicians are available, along with access to state-of-the-art instruments for the determination of inorganic pollutants.

Research and Development: Ongoing applied research activities include: studies on water and air pollution and their impact on human health; and measurements of airborne particulate matter and transport of atmospheric pollutants.  For example, USEPA has announced the agency’s decision to move forward with the development of a regulation for perchlorate (ClO4-) in drinking water to protect public health, while also continuing to take steps to ensure the quality of the drinking water.