Project Experience

Low-Level Tissue & Sediment Studies

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1991-2001. Contract laboratory for the analysis of trace elements, AVS and other parameters in a variety of environmental samples (various animal and plant tissues, sediment, water) provided by the Service. TERL typically analyzes more than 1,000 samples per year for the FWS.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1998-1999. TERL was selected to perform all trace element analyses for the EPA Mid-Atlantic Integrated Assessment Study. Several hundred sediment samples are being analyzed for 16 trace metals and acid volatile sulfide (AVS) / simultaneously extracted metals (SEM) using NOAA National Status and Trends methodologies developed in this laboratory.

SAIC/ Orange County Marine Monitoring Study. 1997-present. TERL was selected to participate in this long term marine monitoring study of shelf sediments in the vicinity of the County’s ocean outfall. The concentrations of 17 trace metals and AVS are being determined using NS&T methods. TERL had previously (1995) collaborated with the South California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) on a large monitoring study in the same coastal area.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 1986-1999. National Status and Trends Mussel Watch Program. Ongoing program monitoring trace element trends in estuarine sediment and oysters from the U.S. coast including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. TERL is currently the sole trace element analytical laboratory for the entire NS&T Mussel Watch Program.

NOAA Sediment Toxicity Study. 1995-present. TERL is participating in a large scale study to correlate observed sediment toxicity with the levels of potential toxicants present. TERL is determining the concentrations of 16 trace elements and AVS in large sample sets from both freshwater (Sabine Lake) and saltwater (Biscayne Bay, Delaware Bay, Tampa Bay, Galveston Bay) environments throughout the US.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1990-present. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Virginia) and Galveston Bay and Casco Bay National Estuary Programs (1991-92): Separate projects monitoring trace element levels in marine sediments and living resources. TERL has also worked with large sample sets (both less than 100 samples) for the REMAP Hudson and Carolinian EMAP Province Studies.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1993-Present. San Juan River Study. A long term, multi-phase environmental monitoring study of biota from this river system. TERL has analyzed over 500 samples from this study.

U.S. Department of the Navy. 1995-97. The Navy in San Diego, CA was looking for an analytical laboratory with documented high quality performance to participate in a high visibility study of yellow fat disease in heron populations nesting on Navy lands. TERL was selected because of our past performance and ability to achieve low detection limits, even with small sample sizes. The levels of 13 elements will be determined in liver tissues from healthy and diseased inidviduals.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 1995-1997. TERL is participating in a large scale study to investigate potential relationships between environmental pollutants and human reproduction.

Minerals Management Service. 1992-1995. Gulf of Mexico Offshore Operations Monitoring EXperiment (GOOMEX). Large program (TERL budget $660,000) to evaluate the sublethal responses of biota exposed to contaminants released from offshore petroleum operations. More than 1300 sediment and tissue samples were analyzed for up to 16 elements using low detection level techniques. TERL also performed all trace metal data interpretation and reporting for this study.

U.S. Dept. of Interior, National Biological Service (NBS). 1995. TERL provided sophisticated low level trace element analyses of water and other matrices in support of NBS bioassay research.

Texas General Land Office, Water Commission and Parks and Wildlife Department. 1992-1993. Study of the biogeochemistry of Hg contamination from a chlor-alkali plant in Lavaca Bay, TX. This project is a follow-on to work done for the NOAA, Damage Assessment and Restoration Center and Sea Grant Program (1990-91) concerning an environmental impact analysis and damage assessment of mercury contamination in this Bay.

Low-Level Water Studies

Chemical Translator Studies

State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. 1995-present. TERL is providing state-of-the-art, ultra-clean chemistry services (both sampling equipment and analysis) for a three year chemical translator study being conducted by the Ohio EPA. The effort involves quantitating total recoverable and dissolved Cd, Cu, Pb and other metals in natural waters with the lowest possible detection limits (0.007, 0.087, 0.14 µg/L, respectively).

Gaylord / C-K Associates. 1996-97. Major, year long study (13 sampling events) of Cu and Zn in effluent and receiving water (MDL’s 0.087 and 0.14 µg/L= ppb, respectively by method 1638 ICP-MS). TERL is providing all clean sampling training, supplies and analytical support. The data are being used to define the total recoverable and dissolved Cu and Zn riverine signatures resulting from the effluent discharge. TERL is also providing clean chemistry support for the possible bioassay follow-on portion of the study.

Riverwood International / C-K Associates. 1996-97. TERL provided all precleaned equipment and clean analytical support for this follow-on study (see initial effluent characterization study below). Total recoverable and dissolved Zn were measured in all source, receiving and process waters for this major industrial plant (ie. .method 1638 ICP-MS MDL=0.14 ppb).. The major goal of the study was to accurately characterize the receiving water Zn signature resulting from the industrial discharge. More than 140 effluent were collected over a 2 day period using clean sampling protocols with comprehensive field QA. All QA blanks (i.e. field, bottle, sampler, method) collected during the study contained no measureable Zn.

Receiving Water Monitoring Studies

Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission / Espey Huston and Associates. 1997-1998. TERL provided state-of-the-art, ultra-clean chemistry services (both sampling equipment and analysis) for a chemical translator study of the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) being conducted by the TNRCC and the Chemical Manufacturers Association. The study involved quantitating dissolved concentrations of Ag, As, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn in the HSC.

Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission / Tischler-Kocurek. 1995-1996. TERL provided state-of-the-art, ultra-clean chemistry services (both sampling equipment and analysis) for a chemical translator study of the Houston Ship Channel (HSC) being conducted by the TNRCC and the Chemical Manufacturers Association. The study involved quantitating total and dissolved concentrations of Ag, As, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn in the HSC.

Houston Ship Channel Toxicity Study. 1993-1995. Court mandated study of contaminant levels. TERL personnel collected all water column trace metal samples using clean sampling procedures and comprehensive field QA. Preconcentration techniques, with complete laboratory QA, were used to measure 13 priority pollutant metals at the sub-ppb level in 160 water samples (both dissolved and particulate fractions). TERL’s results showed that dissolved trace metal concentrations in the HSC were much lower than previous measurements made using conventional procedures, and exceeded State water quality standards in only 1 or 2 instances.

Effluent Characterization Studies

Patrick’s Bayou Pollutant Source Study. 1997-1998. A large scale study of effluent pollutant loadings from several major chemical manufacturing plants discharging to this Bayou on the HSC. TERL is providing state-of-the-art, ultra-clean sampling and analysis support for this major study which is an outgrowth of the earlier HSC Toxicity Study. The concentrations of Ba, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se, V, and Zn are being determined in 24 hour composite effluent samples with sub-ppb detection limits (i.e. 0.01 to 0.5 ppb).

Riverwood International / C-K Associates. 1995. TERL provided on-site training of plant personnel and all precleaned equipment to conduct this paper mill effluent study using clean sampling protocols. More than 20 effluent samples were collected over a 3 day period using clean sampling protocols with comprehensive field QA. Total recoverable (mean 5.5 ppb) and dissolved (mean 1.2 ppb) copper (Cu) were determined by ICP/MS and confirmed by GFAAS (EPA 16 with complete laboratory QA. All blanks generated by TERL personnel were below the detection limit (0.087 ppb). The resulting Cu data set was very tight with an average dissolved/total ratio of 0.22 ± 0.05. Three sets of samples were collected side-by-side on day 1 and each set was analyzed by a different laboratory. TERL’s sample set was the only one collected entirely using clean sampling protocols. TERL was the only laboratory whose dataset passed the stringent QA requirements (EPA 1638 and 1669) and showed no signs of contamination.

Gaylord / C-K Associates. 1995. This 3 day study was conducted in the same manner as the Riverwood Study except that both Cu and Zn were measured in the paper mill effluent. Analyses are currently in progress. Again, three sets of samples were collected side-by-side on day 1 and analyzed by 3 different laboratories. TERL’s sample set was the only one collected entirely using clean sampling protocols. Preliminary results suggest that TERL will again be the only laboratory whose dataset passes the stringent QA requirements (EPA 1638, 1639, 1669) and shows no signs of contamination.

Boise Cascade / C-K Associates. 1995. TERL will be providing all precleaned equipment, training and analytical support for this paper mill effluent study. Both Cu and Zn will be determined. TERL will be the only laboratory involved in this study. No side-by-side sample splitting will be done.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). 1994-1995 to present. TERL was one of 3 laboratories in the nation chosen to validate the new EPA methods (i.e. 1636, 1637, 1638, 1639, 1640) for determining metals at ambient water quality criteria levels (sub-ppb). Phase 2 of the study involved validating the methods on natural water samples collected by TERL in the field using clean sampling methods (EPA 1669). TERL will be participating in the second round of intervalidation studies schedule to begin in late 1998.


National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) and U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, formerly NBS). 1986-present. Annual NOAA National Status and Trends Trace Element Intercalibration Exercise for sediment and tissue. TERL has participated in all exercises (# 1-13) and has consistently received the highest possible performance rating (superior).

NRCC and NIST. 1995. TERL was asked to participate in the certification process for a new sandy sediment certified reference material (CRM). Canadian CRM’s are used routinely in laboratories throughout the world as independent QA samples to confirm the accuracy of analytical results. TERL provided concentration data for 9 trace metals which will be used by the NRCC to establish final certified values for this CRM. TERL also provided trace element certification data for a NIST tissue SRM.

U.S. Geological Survey. 1994-present. Evaluation Program for Standard Reference Water Samples. TERL has been participating in this program since March 1994. In the most recent intercalibration exercise for trace constituents and Hg in water and trace metals in sediments (Open-File Report 95-395), TERL received an overall ranking of fourth among the 137 laboratories participating.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1993-present. TERL has been participating in both Water Supply and Water Pollution Laboratory Performance Evaluation Studies for several years, and has consistently received an acceptable rating (highest possible rating).

Quality Assurance of Information for Marine Environmental Monitoring in Europe (QUASIMEME). 1994-96. TERL is the only U.S. laboratory participating in this European Community sponsored low detection level intercalibration exercise for tissue and sediment. In the latest round (#4, May 1995) TERL received a rating of “good performance” (highest possible rating) for both matrices.