Effluent, Sludge and Wastewater Analysis

Effluent, sludges, wastewater, and runoff can contain a wide range of expected and unexpected components. These deposits can be found in a variety of environments that include drain pipes, retention ponds, waterways (to name a few). Sometimes waste-streams contain unexpected precipitates, residues, chemicals, and reaction products. In other cases, unknown sludges can show up in unexpected locations. Sometimes one may even encounter water with cloudiness, a precipitate, or an unusual color. Microtrace’s expertise in the identification of unknown substances and materials characterization is often applied to the identification of unknown components in waste streams and the screening of effluents and sludges for a broad range of compounds and solids.  We assist clients with the analysis of waste-streams to constrain or attribute sources in both recent and historical incidents of suspected contamination.

Effluent, Sludge and Wastewater Analysis

Microtrace regularly conducts analyses of effluents, sludges and other streams of unknown liquids, sludges, and residue samples. Through a combination of light microscopy and chemistry, we are isolate and identify the various components of a sludge.  The isolated components are then subjected to an appropriate selection of analyses, which may include scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and elemental analysis with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS,EDX), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and Raman spectroscopy for particles, or chromatographic methods such GC-MS, LC-MS, or microchemical tests for liquid and soluble components.  These analyses can be tailored to identify the major components of a sludge, to look for specific unknown components within it, or to screen for a broad range of compounds (e.g., drugs, metals, specific elements, trace contaminants, reaction products).   The interpretation of such analyses can assist with the sourcing of unknown deposits.

Sludge Sourcing

Fecal sludge dumping. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Source determination of a sludge or deposit can be a significant and contentious issue. Investigations into sourcing may arise from a civil complaint or an internal investigation from quality control or a plant manager. Whatever the situation, Microtrace is an independent laboratory that offers testing and analyses to assist your investigation. After understanding the unique characteristics of individual components of a deposit, our scientists can apply trace evidence analysis to constrain or attribute the source or cause of a particular sample. Through rigorous sample analysis and close collaboration with our clients, Microtrace has analyzed a wide range of sludges and effluents in environmental and legal cases originating from unauthorized dumping and historical contamination, to corrosion issues in wastewater treatment pools.

Full Service Analytical Laboratory

Microtrace has been providing rigorous and scientifically-supported testing of unknown materials for more than 25 years. Our laboratory provides an unparalleled range of experience and analytical tools. Our highly-trained scientists are experts on a wide range of materials and contaminants from variety of environments. Furthermore, Microtrace’s purpose-built ISO 17025 accredited laboratory houses state-of-the-art instrumentation to fulfill any analytical need.

Microtrace can aid your investigation with a range of tasks, from assisting clients with sample preservation, to analysis and reporting, through litigation as expert witnesses. Our results stand up to the scrutiny of scientific review and litigation. Yet, our reports present results in a way that both professionals and laymen can understand.

Sludge and Deposit Submissions

Commercial sludge (Photo by Katharina Löw, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Microtrace has analyzed sludges and deposits from pharmaceutical facilities, food facilities, drains, sewers, retention ponds, landfills, and other environments. These materials can sometimes be difficult to sample appropriately, and every investigation has its own sampling conditions and parameters. Because of this, our lab has developed the capabilities and expertise to accept a wide-variety of materials for testing and analysis. For sampling suggestions, please contact a Microtrace scientist, who will gladly provide recommendations for transmitting the sample safely and securely to our laboratory.

Please contact us by e-mail or phone (847.742.9909) before forwarding samples to our lab. We ask that a completed project submission form accompany all submissions.

Our laboratory’s standard turn-around-time is 7-10 business days. However, Rush (2-3 days) and Ultra-Rush (same-day) options are also available.

Contact Us

To discuss your project or learn more about our services, please contact us.

How May We Help You?

Contact us

to discuss your project in more detail.