Environmental Sciences Laboratory

Mission

To provide quality laboratory services for state, federal and other agencies concerned with the protection of the environment and public health. Water, air and food as well as human specimens are analyzed for exposure to toxic substances. A broad spectrum of environmental tests and analyses are provided to programs within the Department of Health, the Department of Environmental Management and other state agencies.

What We Do

Air Pollution Laboratory

  • Maintain a network of air monitoring stations throughout Rhode Island in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Management.
  • Identify and measure the concentration of outdoor air pollutants including: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, airborne toxic compounds, metals, and particulates.
  • Review and compile air quality data for use by the state and federal agencies
  • Provide real time ground level ozone and particulates measurements to be used for public air quality “ozone alerts” and particulate level index.
  • Submit air quality information in a standardized electronic format to be used on state, regional, and national levels to develop air pollution control measures.

Biomonitoring/Chemical Terrorism Preparedness Laboratory

  • Test blood specimens from children under the age of five for lead to prevent childhood lead poisoning.
  • Provide diagnostic blood lead testing.
  • Identify chemical terrorism agents in the blood or urine of those potentially exposed.
  • Develop analytical methods and perform special studies to determine human exposure to environmental pollutants, such as mercury or tobacco smoke

Food and Water Chemistry Laboratory

  • Test drinking water from Rhode Island public water systems for inorganic contaminants, minerals, and trace metals to determine safety and compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Test potability of water from private wells.
  • Provide inorganic chemistry tests used by the Department of Environmental Management to monitor shellfish, water quality and pollution in the state’s rivers and streams.
  • Analyze water samples in support of special pollution monitoring programs implemented by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
  • Coordinate and respond to outbreaks related to chemical contaminants or toxins in food.

Organic Chemistry

  • Test drinking water from Rhode Island public water systems for organic chemical contaminants to determine safety and compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Test potability of water from private wells.
  • Maintain analytical instrumentation to detect and measure the concentration of a variety of pesticides, volatile and synthetic organic pollutants in drinking or ambient water.
  • Provide testing associated with identifying the improper application of pesticides in support of the Department of Environmental Management’s Use/Misuse Program.
  • Measure organic chemicals in wastewater to assure compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Quality Assurance Office

  • Ensure the high quality of testing services.
  • Detect quality control problems through the use of internal audits, routine data review and statistical methods.
  • Monitor the proficiency testing program
  • Coordinate the efforts to maintain compliance with state and federal regulations, including certification/accreditation requirements.
  • Solicits customer feedback to improve customer satisfaction.

Analytical Laboratory Certification Office

  • Operate the analytical laboratory certification program
  • Assess quality assurance and quality control systems in the certified analytical laboratories.
  • Perform on-site inspections of certified analytical laboratories located in Rhode Island. Review proficiency testing results for certified analytical laboratories.
  • Maintain a list of laboratories certified for the analysis of drinking water, non-potable water and environmental lead.
  • Provide information on applying for analytical laboratory certification.