AGAT Laboratories’ environmental laboratories utilize US EPA and Standard Methods for the examination of water and wastewater, as well as CCME, ASTM, OMOE, RBCA, MDDEFP, NIOSH and other recognized methodologies in accordance with both federal and provincial legislations.
We deliver comprehensive analytical services for:
Contaminated site testing
Drilling waste services
Groundwater and surface water monitoring
Mine reclamation and monitoring
Waste Leachate testing
Open Scan compound identification
Detailed soil and water analysis (including drinking water)
Research and development
Soil vapour analysis
Our full-range of services can provide you with the following advantages:
Fast turn-around of data and rush results available for time-sensitive analysis.
Experienced, highly qualified staff and state-of the-art instrumentation.
An assigned Business Development Representative and personalized Client Project Manager for your project needs.
Strategically located laboratories for easy access.
A comprehensive branch and depot system for convenient sample drop-off and supply pick-up.
Relationships with leading domestic and international couriers with next-day service and the ability to assist with sample logistics planning for remote sampling sites.
Instant access to results at anytime, anywhere through our interactive environmental database WebEARTH.
WebEARTH is our interactive web database for our environmental clients. This software package can provide you with real-time access to analytical results while integrating features such as data-trending, guideline comparisons, quality control and customizable export functions. This includes custom downloads in client-specified formats, the substitution of cross-Canada regulatory standards, various reporting formats, trending and graphing options all in a secure, managed environment.
AGAT Laboratories is the exclusive Canadian laboratory provider of the En Core® Sampler. This device collects, stores and delivers soil samples in one easy-to-use package. It is approved by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment as the only alternative to Methanol field stabilization, eliminating the requirement for chemical stabilization in the field.
Laboratory accreditation provides formal recognition to competent laboratories, thus providing a ready means for you to find reliable testing and calibration services that also meets your service needs.
AGAT Laboratories is accredited, licensed or approved for specific analyses by the following agencies:
The Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA)
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC)
Enhanced Water Quality Assurance (EWQA)
Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)
Ministère de l’Environnement et de l’Action en matière de changement climatique (MDDELCC)
Nova Scotia Environment
AGAT Laboratories is accredited by CALA and SCC, for specific tests, to the following standard:
AGAT laboratories is certified to the following standard:
The Accreditation Process
World-wide, many countries rely on a process called Laboratory Accreditation which includes specific criteria and procedures as a means of determining technical competence. Specialized technical assessors conduct a thorough evaluation of all factors in a laboratory that affect the production of test or calibration data. The criteria is based on the internationally accepted standards of ISO/IEC 17025, which are used for evaluating laboratories throughout the world. Laboratory accreditation bodies specifically use this standard to assess factors relevant to a laboratory’s ability to produce precise and accurate test and calibration data.
AGAT Laboratories is accredited, licensed or approved for specific analyses and ensures:
Validity and appropriateness of test methods.
Suitability, calibration and maintenance of test equipment.
Technical competence of staff.
Sampling, handling and transportation of test items.
Quality assurance of test and calibration data.
Traceability of measurements and calibrations to national standards.
To ensure continued compliance, accredited laboratories are regularly re-examined to ensure that they are maintaining their standards of technical expertise. These laboratories may also be required to participate in regular proficiency testing programs as an on-going demonstration of their competency.
Accreditation and Proficiency Testing
CALA: The Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) grants and maintains laboratory accreditations. It operates two programs that assist laboratories in meeting international accreditation requirements. These programs are known as the Proficiency Testing Program and the Training Service Program. Accreditation itself is based on satisfactory participation in CALA’s site assessment program as well as satisfactory participation in proficiency testing.
Proficiency Testing: Is a special type of inter-laboratory comparison study. It is a powerful quality assurance tool that enables laboratories to monitor their performance and compare their results against similar laboratories.
CALA’s Proficiency Testing Program is accredited to ISO/IEC 17043 and generally consists of four samples per study with two studies per year.
The analyte concentrations in these samples are unknown to the participating laboratory, which analyzes the samples and reports the results for evaluation. If the laboratory does not report the correct value for two consecutive rounds of study, they are suspended for those parameters and will not be accredited until the issue has been corrected. Successful participation results in the laboratory obtaining proficient status for the analytes examined. These results are used as one of the surveillance tools in support of laboratory accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025.
Once accredited, a site assessment is done every two years at the qualifying laboratory to verify that operationally, the laboratory is up to the standards set forth by the accrediting body.
The analysis of organic compounds at trace levels of pesticides, solvents, fuels, PCBs and others requires a high degree of skill and expertise. The diversity of organic compound classes must be reflected in the diversity of instrumentation available and in the professionals staffing an organics laboratory.
AGAT Laboratories’ Trace Organics laboratory is accredited by CALA for parameters listed on our scope of accreditation, which can be viewed on CALA’s website. Our Trace Organics team focuses on the analysis of organic priority pollutants for environmental applications. They also have the ability to perform analysis such as the custom identification of unknown organic compounds in both
bulk and trace levels.
Methods of analysis can be developed and validated for performance upon request to the laboratory. Our clients for organic analysis include the government, military, waste managers, landfills, ecologists, environmental consultants, process engineers, manufacturing companies, research scientists, food producers and many more.
For years AGAT Laboratories has been providing high quality trace organic data to meet both provincial and federal guidelines. Through advances in methodology, we are able to meet the low-level detections of thousands of compounds that are required by Alberta Tier 1, BC MOE, CCME, O. Reg 153/558 and the Atlantic RBCA.
These compounds include the following:
Volatile Organic Compounds
Pesticides and Herbicides
Formaldehyde and Aldehydes
Total and extractable organic Halides
Oil and grease
CBM Methane in water
Schedule 11 BC CSR soil vapour compounds
Volatile fatty acids
All of these compounds are available in custom-designed packages to meet your provincial guidelines and detection limits.
Our Trace Organics Experience
Having the ability to deal with a broad range of organic analysis is something that not many laboratories can claim. AGAT Laboratories’ team of scientists Canada-wide are always available for specialty analysis, method development, chromatogram and data interpretation as well as for expert advice on your projects.
AGAT Laboratories’ experience includes many projects with analytical work in areas such as:
Underground storage tanks
Pesticide residues in many applications
PCBs for utilities and hygiene
Identification of unknowns for waste classification
Solvent scans for landfill purposes
Organic halide determinations
Materials stability studies
Organic vapour determinations
Inorganic Chemistry is the branch of chemistry concerned with the properties and behavior of inorganic compounds. This field covers all chemical compounds except the myriad of organic compounds (compounds containing C-H bonds) that are the subject of Organic Chemistry.
AGAT Laboratories is accredited for a vast array of inorganic parameters for the analysis of soils, sludges, drinking water, groundwater, coalbed methane testing and landfill analysis.
Some of our Inorganic capabilities include:
Anions (CI, Br, F, NO3, NO2, SO4)
Cations (Mg, Ca, Na, K)
TLCP and Inorganics
Ultra low-level Mercury
AGAT Laboratories can analyze up to 36 different metals and these analyses are available in packaged scans according to region. Our environmental laboratories frequently invest in the most recent instrumentation for optimal analysis and are equipped with both ICP-OES and ICP-MS instrumentation.
Expanding our capabilities in both Calgary and Mississauga, these locations utilize the ICP-MS ELAN® DRC II. The innovative ELAN® DRC II completely eliminates polyatomic interferences by using patented Dynamic Reaction Cell™ (DRC™) technology with performance-enhancing axial field technology. Using a process called chemical resolution; the ELAN DRC II eliminates plasma-based polyatomic interferences before they reach the quadrupole mass spectrometer. This instrument allows for the best method detection limits in our soils and waters, to reach those low-level numbers seen in the CCME’s Freshwater Aquatic Life Guidelines.
AGAT Laboratories has fully accredited microbiology laboratories to detect bacteria under strict quality assurance conditions. We can analyze for bacteria using a number of microbial techniques which satisfy the strict environmental regulations across Canada.
AGAT Laboratories’ environmental microbiology capabilities currently include the following bacterial parameters:
E. coli 0157:H7
Yeast and Mold
Sulfate Reducing Bacteria
All of AGAT Laboratories’ microbiology laboratories are accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) for microbiological parameters with the exception of our Quebec Laboratory. This microbiology laboratory is instead accredited for water and soil analysis by the Ministère du Développement Durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs du Québec (MDDEP).
Please note: Our microbiology laboratory is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada for the detection of food borne pathogens and uses methods prescribed by Health Canada as well as methods approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).
Indoor Air Quality Program
Indoor Air Quality is important for all buildings, specifically for office and institutional buildings. The topic of air quality concerns associated with a non-industrial, “clean” office environment have only been recognized and quantified within the past two decades.
AGAT Laboratories utilizes a wide-range of analytical techniques to provide the necessary data used to assess indoor air quality. This data can be used by Air Quality Consultants to provide recommendations on air quality. Following are some of our services from our Air Quality Monitoring Division that can be applied to the area.
We offer various integrated sampling programs based on drawing air through filters and absorbents. We use specialized sampling techniques as per EPA TO Methods that can be supplied for multiple components including:
Filters for high volume sampling for TSP and PM10.
PUF tubes for high volume sampling for PCBs and PAHs.
Sep-pak cartridges and Gastec tubes for Formaldehyde and Phenol.
Silonite Canisters and Tedlar bags for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) detection.
AGAT Laboratories offers Silonite Canisters, the latest in SUMMA testing technology for the collection of the following:
Indoor air sources
Ambient air sources
Stationary air sources
Soil vapour by thermal desorption
These canisters are used for volatile organic determination in ambient indoor air by EPA TO-14A/15A – Canister Sampling. Silonite technology increases the integrity of samples by preventing degradation by exposure to sunlight and the permeation of Volatile Organic Compounds through the vessel walls. This allows easy shipping and storage over longer periods of time.
For more details on all of our Air Quality Monitoring services and Source Testing capabilities, please click here.
Research and Development
AGAT Laboratories is committed to an ambitious Research and Development Program that results in numerous separate projects developed in each area of our scientific divisions. These projects represent initiatives designed to improve internal processes while continuing to offer you new services.
The following includes the abstracts from each of the projects developed by our Environmental Chemistry Division.
Currently, the most commonly used digestion method for the extraction of metals analysis is EPA 3050, a strong acid digest designed to illustrate what might be environmentally available. In an attempt to maximize efficiency within the lab and increase turn-around, all efforts must be made to increase sample preparation efficiency without sacrificing quality.
It’s expected that a higher temperature digest than what is currently being used may result in metals migrating from the soil matrix into the acid solution at a faster pace, as this is an endothermic reaction.
The technological advantage AGAT Laboratories is pursuing is to discover the optimum time and temperature for the most efficient acid digest is sought.
The analysis of Microtox on drilling muds calls for 90 minutes of centrifugation to clarify a supernatant prior to quantification. Often, the clouding of the supernatant solution is a result of the presence of cellulose-based polymers, specifically Xanthan Gum and Carboxymethylcellulose. These polymers are used in the field to hold hydrocarbons, water and soils together in drilling mud suspensions, allowing drilling engineers to manipulate mud densities and viscosities in the drilling process.
AGAT Laboratories hypothesizes that dropping the pH will fill populate carboxyl group sites with protons, effectively bringing the polymer out of suspension in water during centrifugation. AGAT Laboratories is trying to find out if the polymers are selectively precipitated out of a solution without alteration of hydrocarbon concentrations, is it possible to optimize the method for more efficient throughput in the laboratory?
Reference methodologies for the quantification of Petroleum Hydrocarbons in air samples have not been developed to cover the criteria developed by the CCME. In this development program, AGAT Laboratories attempts to establish if the extension of the CCME criteria from soils to air is viable.
Procedures for sample preparation, standard preparation and evaluation will be developed. Success will enable AGAT Laboratories to perform environmental analysis of ambient and occupational air samples.
The analysis of Fe2+ and Mn2+ in water is typically performed by HPLC with a post column reaction with PAR. Presence of other strong complexing agents in water samples is masking the detection of Fe2+ and Mn2+, and altering retention times. Therefore, when performing this analysis by HPLC, multiple sample dilutions are often required which significantly increases the method detection limits for these two analytes.
In this program, AGAT Laboratories attempts to develop a method of water sample pre-treatment, allowing us to avoid dilutions, reduce method detection limits and stabilize the observed retention times for cations of Fe2+ and Mn2+.
Drilling wastes, per analytical protocol, are digested as wet samples or “as received”. This runs contrary to a typical metals digestion procedure of soil samples. The hypothesis being pursued in this program concerns whether or not moisture present in over-saturated samples dilutes the acid used in the digestion procedure enough to affect how well metals are being brought into solution. In addition, the fact that the samples do not undergo homogenization typical in soil or sediment analysis programs could perhaps influence the consistency of the results and the recovery of metals from samples laden with clay or other dense soil types.
AGAT Laboratories investigates whether significant evidence is present to confirm or dispute the use of “as received” digests on drilling muds.
Drilling waste samples often originate at “Barite Sites” destined for analysis of both total and extractable Barium, often at requested rush turn-around times.
AGAT Laboratories intends to investigate whether an elevated drying temperature causes significant oxidation, enough to bias the results. If successful in determining that the high drying temperature does not affect the analyte concentration significantly, AGAT Laboratories will have decreased preparation and analysis time, thereby decreasing analytical turn-around time significantly.
In this project, AGAT Laboratories is examining the use of chelation agents in tandem with conventional ICP-MS technology for the analysis of trace metals. ICP-MS is the standard technique for trace metals analysis commonly seen in environmental samples. However, it is limited in its ability to analyze samples with high dissolved solids content and/or high concentrations of certain elements with reasonable accuracy and precision using standard methodologies.
AGAT Laboratories attempts to utilize chelating agents to mitigate potential mass conventions, thereby allowing for the determination of trace metals in marine samples.
The SPLP procedure is used to simulate the leaching effect on various contaminants of concern, illustrating the environmental effects over time. This information is useful during the design, construction and monitoring of landfill sites and for projects involving solidification/stabilization as a remediation tool. This project is intended to examine how best to maximize the amount of Total PCBs that are recovered from the leachate fluid for analysis. This will provide the end users of the data a more accurate and precise measurement of Total PCBs that may leach from material over time.
Resolution of Chlorate, Chlorite and Bromate ions by Ion Chromatography (IC) is not possible when analyzing common anions such as Nitrate, Nitrate, Chloride, Fluoride, Phosphate, Sulphate and Bromide using columns recommended by standard methods for aqueous samples. This is due to the co-elution of the peaks in the resulting chromatography.
This project will seek to resolve each of these compounds using an alternative column.
Analysis by GCMS using traditional columns such as DB-5 is the standard approach for PAHs. However, limitations in the chromatographic separation of several PAHs exist where similar retention times and molecular masses are encountered. Newer specialty columns offer the possibility of resolving these isomers by looking at fluorescence of molecular geometry for the identification of PAHs.
Our investigation will verify the performance of these columns relative to generally accepted standard methods for the resolution of these columns.
This project will seek to provide an adaptation of the Atlantic RBCA method for Extractable Petroleum Hydrocarbons (EPA) analysis. This is to be applied to biological tissues, specifically fish oil and fish muscle, by breading these down to an aqueous solution. This would allow for the extracted EPA from the tissue to be recovered for analysis using the Atlantic RBCA method for EPH analysis by GC/FID.
Currently no standard method exists for the extraction and analysis of total PCBs in paint chips. Existing standard EPA methods for extracting soil and solid samples will be applied to this matrix and investigated to determine fit-for-purpose in the matrix.
This project will seek to apply existing analytical techniques for the testing of Total Phenolics in water samples to soil matrices such as solids and sediments using distillation followed by colorimetric analysis using segmented flow colorimetric analysis.
AGAT Laboratories’ Mississauga facility uses a Purge and Trap GC/MS approach to analyze for Volatile Organic Compounds in soils and water. It has been observed that many client samples are extremely contaminated with high levels of hydrocarbons or volatile compounds, yet require that the reporting detection limit for vinyl chloride be at or below the low and required guidelines. On occasion, the reporting detection limit is adjusted and as such, is above the guideline requirements due to the dilution(s) required. These dilutions are performed in order to minimize/prevent contamination of the purge and trap system as well as answering calibration limitations.
To meet client and regulation requirements, an alternative technique is proposed for such samples. Headspace analysis GC/MS may allow a more highly contaminated and concentrated sample to be analyzed using a lower dilution level such that the reporting detection limit is not as affected. AGAT Laboratories would like to investigate the performance of headspace analysis GC/MS in comparison to Purge and Trap GC/MS for the detection of vinyl chloride in the presence of varying high levels of Trichloroethylene and Hydrocarbons.