FAQs

Not all of the tests we require are in your price list. Does this mean you cannot provide these tests?

The tests listed in our price list are the most common tests we perform, but with our equipment and experience we are certainly willing and able to perform other analyses that are not listed. Please note, the tests listed are only tests that we perform in-house. Like most laboratories, we do not have the capability to run every analysis, so we work with other laboratories that we trust to provide our clients “full service.”

Does Enviro-Chem Laboratories, Inc. provide sample containers, coolers and chain-of custody forms?

ECL can provide these materials at no charge. Please contact us ahead of time if you have a major project so that we can be sure to have the appropriate sample containers ready for you. If coolers and sample containers need to be shipped, it is the responsibility of the recipient to pay shipping costs.

What does "ppm" and "mg/L"mean?

Results are often reported as ppm which stands for parts per million, and is a unit of concentration. For general purposes, "ppm" and “mg/L” (milligrams per liter) mean the same thing. Results may also be reported as "ppb" (parts per billion), which can be interchanged with ug/L (micrograms per liter).

What does "MPN" mean?

MPN stands for "Most Probable Number" and is used when reporting concentrations of bacteria. Because bacteria are so small, it would be difficult to directly count them. Methods have been developed which make use of statistical tables that allow us to estimate the concentration of bacteria.

Your laboratory tested my water and reported a nitrate level of 5 ppm. A water conditioning company tested my water and reported that the nitrate level was 22 ppm. Why are the results so different?

Results for nitrate can be reported as either nitrate (NO3) or as nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N). Because the EPA standards are given as nitrate-nitrogen, Enviro-Chem Laboratories, Inc. reports them this way. The maximum contaminant level for nitrate in drinking water is 10 ppm as NO3-N. This would be the same as 44.3 ppm NO3 It is important to check how nitrate results are reported.

Do I need to be home to have my water tested?

If no one can be home during the day for us to collect a water sample it can be taken from an outside hose bib under certain conditions. If the water is turned off to the outside tap there will be a sampling charge. The homeowner must have any attachments (i.e. hoses, sprinkler systems, irrigation hook-ups) removed from the hose bib and there must be clear access to the hose bib. It will be necessary for the sampler to have the hose-bib turned on for 10-15 minutes while sampling. Enviro-Chem Laboratories is not responsible for any damage to plants or the foundation from running the water out of the hose-bib.

How do I collect my own water sample for bacteria testing?

In order to collect a bacteria sample it is first necessary to have a sterile container. Homeowners wishing to stop by our laboratory can pick up a container during our normal business hours. Other options include buying a sterile "specimen" cup from your local pharmacy or sterilizing a glass jar and lid such as a canning jar. We need at least 100 mls (about 1 cup) of water for the test. Once you have a suitable container, follow these steps:

  1. Remove any devices attached to the end of the tap, such as aerators, screens, hoses, etc.
  2. With a paper towel that has been dipped in bleach, clean out the end of the tap.
  3. Allow the cold-water tap to run for 5 minutes. This will remove any remaining bleach and make sure that the water being tested is fresh.
  4. Turn the water to a steady stream. Try to avoid splashing, or having the water run along the outside of the fixture.
  5. If you are using a container from ECL, remove the cap from the container, without setting the cap down. Fill the container to the 100 mL mark and replace the cap. There is a white powder or pill in side the container-do not rinse out this powder.
  6. Keep the sample cold, but do not freeze. The sample must be returned to the lab within 24 hours of when it was collected. Please remember, that we do not accept samples for bacteria on Friday or on the day before a holiday, without prior approval.  Please call us if you have any questions.