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Environmental Organic Chemistry

The Environmental Organic Chemistry Unit analyzes various sample matrices, such as water and soil for a variety of organic chemicals.  Eligible submitters include health departments and certain governmental agencies. In general, all water samples should be taken in one (1) liter amber bottles or 40mL glass vials supplied by the Laboratory.

Petroleum Products and Volatile Organic Compounds

Petroleum products fall into two categories 1) solvents and gasoline; and 2) heavy oils and greases.  If the suspected petroleum contaminant is a solvent or gasoline, request a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Kit.  VOC samples are collected in 40-mL vials available from the Environmental Sciences Branch (919) 733-7308.  If the suspected contaminant is a heavy oil or grease, request a Petroleum Kit (also available from the ESB).  Petroleum Kit samples are analyzed for both volatiles and extractables.  Petroleum product samples are collected in one (1) litter amber botles and 40-mL vials.  VOC and Petroleum Kits are supplied only to health departments upon request.  Follow all instructions on the label or request sheet when sampling.  Screw the cap on tight, making sure the cap seals.  Mail immediately in Styrofoam mailers to the Laboratory.  This analysis is to determine a potential health hazard of the supply and will not necessarily determine the source of contamination by identifying the compound(s).  The person submitting the sample should make note of any odors or possible sources of contamination on the request sheet.  Please fill in the blanks on the request sheet DHHS form #2364.  Print legibly.


Samples to be analyzed for the presence of pesticides are sampled in 2 one-litter amber glass bottles.  These bottles may be requested through the Environmental Sciences Branch office.  Private samples should list suspected compound(s) on the report sheet DHHS form #2364.  The Laboratory is unable to analyze for every pesticide (herbicides, fungicides, etc.), so before sampling, check with the Laboratory.  Rinse and fill the bottle with the water sample and seal with Teflon lined cap.  Make sure the cap fully seals.  Mail immediately to the Laboratory.  Remember to complete all information on the submission form and print legibly.


Organic analyses are diverse in nature and vary greatly in complexity and analytical requirements. It is difficult to state precisely when a report for a particular test will be completed. Some samples may receive priority treatment because of a critical health concern, an imminent hazard in the workplace, the instability of a particular sample, or other factors. Generally, results are complete within three weeks of the sample collection date. Public and private water system laboratory reports are held for five years and then destroyed.

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Last Modified: August 21, 2014 10:35 AM