Is there a new water crisis in Michigan?
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 11:19

Environmental Express offers a full line of PFAS Analysis supplies

Link to the CNN article: 

Is there a new water crisis in Michigan?

Officials in Michigan warned more than 3,000 residents against drinking their water.

(CNN) - On Sunday, Michigan's lieutenant governor called a state of emergency for Kalamazoo County due to water contaminated with chemicals at more 20 times the threshold set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

It's yet another site on a growing list of those around the state contaminated with the chemicals PFAS or PFOA.

Last week, test results from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found water in municipal water system in the city of Parchment, which is located in Kalamazoo County, had levels of PFAS as high as 1,410 parts per trillion. The EPA's recommended limit is 70 parts per trillion.
    The industrial chemicals, known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances or PFASs, have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.

    Thousands shouldn't drink their water

    On Friday, county officials warned the approximately 3,100 residents of Parchment and nearby Cooper Township that are served by the municipal water system to stop using the water for drinking, cooking, or to mix baby formula. Local officials said the water can be used for showering, laundry and flushing toilets.

    Parchment's water supply will be drained and continue to be flushed "until test results come back that shows the PFAS levels are below the health advisory level," according to a news release from the Kalamazoo County government.

    The state declaration of emergency allows for the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts with local and county officials.

    "This declaration will allow the state to supply additional resources to help with response efforts and ensure the health and safety of residents in Parchment and Cooper Township," Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said in a statement.

    Kalamazoo County is one of 34 PFAS-contaminated sites identified since statewide testing of water systems began in March, according to state officials. Other sites include the municipal water system of Ann Arbor, as well as the Battle Creek area.

    'People should be concerned'

    PFAS belongs to a family of chemicals that also include PFOA and GenX. Introduced more than 60 years ago, PFASs are a category of manmade chemicals that degrade very slowly, if at all, in the environment. The chemicals have been used for decades on military bases and in industrial areas in the manufacturing of thousands of consumer items, such as food packaging materials, fabrics, nonstick cooking pans and firefighting foams. While PFOA and PFAS are no longer manufactured in the US, they continue to be found in the environment.

    "I think that people should be concerned about the amount of PFOA and PFOS that is in our environment," Susan M. Pinney, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati, wrote in an email. "These are chemicals with long half-lives," meaning they persist in the environment as well as the body.

    "Exposure in utero may have the greatest effect on developing children ... and effects may last into adulthood," she said, adding that the science is still early.

    Pinney said there are immediate things that can be done, including "granular activated charcoal filtration systems which will remove much (although not all) of the PFOA." More research and information on the potential health effects of these chemicals, as well as improved detection systems, are needed, she said.

    In June, the the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, released a draft report that recommended that PFAS and the related family of chemicals, be much lower. The 800-plus page report determined that current EPA suggested limits are are up to 10 times higher than they should be. The report is open to public comment until August 20.

    Threshold for harmful chemicals in drinking water lower than thought
    Monday, 25 June 2018 08:15

    A government study found that chemicals found in drinking water around the country could pose risks to human health at lower levels than the government currently recognizes, potentially opening the door for more states to begin cleaning up or regulating the chemical.

    The report released Wednesday by a branch of the Office of Health and Human Services examined a category of chemicals commonly called PFAS that have been used to make non-stick products, firefighting foam and water-repellant coatings.

    They've been found in water systems and soil around the country. The most researched types of these chemicals are referred to as PFOA and PFOS, both of which remain in the environment for a long time after they're introduced, raising concerns about the health effects to people living near areas contaminated by the chemicals.

    The report found that PFOA and PFOS caused negative health effects in rodents at a lower equivalent level in humans than previously recognized by the EPA. The finding could cause a ripple effect, possibly requiring new rules or laws as states work on cleaning up areas with high levels of the chemicals.

    The study reported that the EPA's advisory level of 70 parts per trillion is seven to 10 times higher than when HHS first said it noticed health effects in animals.

    The agency that evaluates potentially toxic chemicals also said that drinking fluids or eating food contaminated with the chemicals could potentially increase the risk of cancer, interfere with hormones and the immune system, and affect growth and development of children and infants. But, overall, more research is needed to understand the impacts of all type of chemicals in the PFAS category on human health.

    The study did not specifically recommend a new level that is safe for humans but advocacy groups working on this issue said the new data show states and the federal government should act to clean up the chemicals.

    "This study confirms that the EPA’s guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water woefully underestimate risks to human health," Olga Naidenko, senior science advisor at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. "We urge EPA to collect and publish all water results showing PFAS contamination at any level, so Americans across the country can take immediate steps to protect themselves and their families."

    The Environmental Working Group has estimated that drinking water for 16 million Americans has levels of the chemicals higher than the EPA's recommended limit and that some amount of it has been found in more than 1,500 water systems serving more than 110 million people.

    The study was the center of a controversy earlier this year after Politico reported that officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Pentagon and White House talked about delaying the public release of the report, writing in an email that it would be a "public relations nightmare." Those emails were obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through a public records request.

    EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in May that the EPA will move to label PFAS chemicals "hazardous" and will look into a maximum level at which the chemicals are safe and provide recommendations to states looking to clean up contaminated sites. The agency held a summit with state officials that generated further controversy after reporters and a member of Congress reported they weren't allowed to attend some of the sessions.

    Dealing with PFAS "is one of EPA's top priorities and the agency is committed to continuing to participate in and contribute to a coordinated approach across the federal government," the director of the agency's water office, Peter Grevatt, said in a statement. "Federal agencies are developing a variety of tools, including toxicity values, analytical methods, and treatment options, that can work together to provide states, tribes, local governments, health professionals, and communities with information and solutions to address these chemicals."

    Michigan is one state that has been testing for PFAS substances in water systems. The director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said at the EPA summit that the only reason her state has found so much PFAS contamination is that the state is "actively and aggressively looking," according to

    An official with Michigan's environmental agency said the state is pleased the report was released and wants EPA to work with state and local governments to set standards for PFAS.

    PHOTO: Rum Creek, a Rogue River tributary, flows through the former Wolverine World Wide tannery property in Rockford, Mich., Aug. 14, 2017.
    Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press/AP
    Rum Creek, a Rogue River tributary, flows through the former Wolverine World Wide tannery property in Rockford, Mich., Aug. 14, 2017.more +

    In one site near the airport in Grand Rapids, officials have identified levels of PFAS chemicals in wells between 54 and 461 parts per trillion. The state has also been working with the EPA to test a site of a former tannery where very high levels of PFOS were found in the groundwater.

    Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee represents Flint, Michigan, and called for the federal government to release the CDC study earlier and take more action to limit exposure to the chemicals.

    "This federal study is deeply concerning because it demonstrates that PFAS chemicals are more dangerous to human health than the EPA has previously acknowledged. The Trump Administration must address PFAS contamination with more urgency. We must ensure that families and veterans exposed to these dangerous chemicals receive the health care and clean-up resources they need," Kildee said in a statement.

    Innovations in Metals Digestions Article
    Monday, 29 January 2018 07:35

    Check out an article by our very own David Smith on the many innovative products for metals digestions that Environmental Express has to offer. These products help make metals digestions safer, more efficient, more accurate, and save you valuable time and money.

    You can read the article in Labcompare.

    ProWeigh® filters – A Novel Approach to Solids Testing

    Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater requires that the 1.5 µm, glass fiber filter used for solids determinations be prepared by rinsing with distilled or deionized water, oven drying, cooling, and then weighing to the nearest 0.1 milligram. ProWeigh® filters. a product designed to eliminate the labor and time involved in the preparation of the filter, meet all the method requirements found in Standard Methods 2540D and 2540E.

    This product is novel in that it is simply a machine-produced duplication of the tasks necessary for Total Suspended Solids (TSS) testing, and not a new test method. Since the product is a replication of present laboratory efforts, only routine blank testing is required and no equivalency testing needs to be done. ProWeigh® meets all of the EPA requirements for a TSS filter, thereby meeting with EPA approval.


    ProWeigh® filters are laser cut to ensure accuracy and smooth edges. Traditionally, filters have been cut using a click press. This can fray the filter material which can be lost during testing, thereby affecting the final weight. The 1.5µm, borosilicate glass fiber filters are vacuum rinsed with three aliquots of deionized water, which removes any loose fibers to provide consistent blanks. After washing, the filters are oven dried at 105°C for 90 minutes in a horizontal flow mechanical convection oven, and then transferred to a desiccating cabinet to cool for 24 hours. After preparation, the filters are weighed robotically to the nearest 0.1 mg using a certified, computer-interfaced balance. Each filter is placed in an aluminum dish that has the weight of the filter and the filter identification number printed on a heat-resistant Mylar® label which are automatically affixed to the aluminum planchet. As a continuing quality check, 8 percent of all filters are redried and reweighed, assuring filter weight stability and reproducibility.


    To perform a TSS sample evaluation, the analyst takes the filter from its aluminum dish and places it in a vacuum filtration apparatus. The sample is filtered across the ProWeigh® and the filter is then returned to its aluminum weigh pan. The pan is placed in a 105°C oven for one hour and then cooled to balance temperature in a desiccator. The filter is weighed and then returned to its pan. The pan is returned to the 105°C oven for one hour and then cooled to balance temperature in a desiccator once more. The filter is weighed a second time and the two final weights must be within a 0.5 mg of each other. If not, the cycle of heating, cooling, and weighing must be repeated until two, consecutive weights are within the specified tolerance of 0.5 mg.

    To address a frequently voiced concern regarding this product, the initial recorded weight indicated on the pan label is not affected by absorbed moisture. The filter tare weight is captured when the filter is completely dried and desiccated. The testing laboratory's final weighing is performed after drying and desiccating. Therefore, all interim air moisture absorbed by the filter while in transit or on the stock shelf of the laboratory is a nonfactor and will be removed before the final filter weight is measured.

    In addition, the use of different balances should not affect accuracy. Balances must be calibrated routinely to ensure correct results. Environmental Express balances are repeatedly certified with NIST weights and are calibrated internally several times during each working day.


    Current users of the fully-prepared ProWeigh® filters enjoy the improved accuracy, time and cost savings, and convenience that this product provides. Laboratories enjoy the benefit of half the turnaround time on a TSS sample. Also, because TSS analysis routinely sells for $8.00 to $16.00 and is, therefore, generally of low value to the laboratory, the technician can perform additional and more revenue generating tasks.

    When the filter cost was added to actual labor cost, one customer found that by switching to ProWeigh® filters, they were able to save about 10 percent in the total cost of performing a single TSS. With over 20 TSS sample tests performed each day in this busy municipal lab, an extra 30 minutes per day is now productively redirected to the performance of other pressing requirements.

    ProWeigh® is a standard 47 mm filter that is used with any common 47 mm filter funnel. Crucible users who do not use a filter funnel for TSS have found three distinct advantages in changing to this product:

    • Most crucible filters measure less than 25 mm in diameter, so thick, sludgy samples filter 3-4 times quicker because of the vastly increased surface area.
    • Solids routinely adhere to the sides of crucibles and are then baked on. Great difficulty is encountered in scouring and scrubbing afterwards. With ProWeigh®, little washing is required because solids adhering to the sides of the filter funnel are washed onto the filter using a squirt bottle of deionized water.
    • Finally, 99 percent of all labs using crucibles already possess at least one 47mm filter funnel of some design. Therefore, new equipment does not need to be purchased to switch over to this product. It is important, however, for crucible users to fully understand that only the filter will be weighed when using ProWeigh® as the crucible method requires that both the filter and crucible be weighed in tandem.


    ProWeigh® filters are also available for fixed or volatile solids. After washing the filter, these filters are heated in a muffle furnace to 550°C to drive off any potential volatiles present on the glass fiber. As with all ProWeigh® products, they are desiccated to balance temperature, weighed to the nearest 0.1 mg and quality checked for accuracy.


    We all know how auditors can be very meticulous in their findings. Standard Methods 2540D states that during the filter preparation, the filter must be weighed twice and these two weights must be consistent and within the 0.5 mg tolerance. Our ProWeigh® filters meet these requirements but only the first weight is recorded. Some auditors and regulatory bodies require that the second weight is documented to prove method compliance. Environmental Express has a solution to this requirement, The ProWeigh® DoubleWeigh filter. The DoubleWeigh filters are prepared the same way as the ProWeigh® filters except that both weights are recorded.

    In summation, the ProWeigh filter family of products saves you valuable time, money, and resources by eliminating the need for TSS/VSS filter prep. On average, you can save up to 3+ hours of prep time that can be utilized on more productive, revenue-generating tasks.

    I’ve got 99 problems, but METALS aren’t one!!
    Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:10

    Not with the new innovative additions to our Metals Digestion product line that is!!  Our newest metals digestion products are designed to help save you time, money, and improve the consistency and accuracy of your results.

    Not enough hours in the day??  Our new AutoBlock Fill may be just what you’re looking for.  The AutoBlock Fill automates the most dangerous steps of metals digestion – reagent addition.  With the push of a button the AutoBlock Fill will save you from countless nasty pipetting thumb cramps and best of all TIME!!  The unit allows the user to add an existing HotBlock of any size and lock it into the system creating an automated Metals Digestion Unit at a fraction of the price of a traditional automated unit.  The AutoBlock Fill holds five 1-Liter reagent bottles in the on-board reagent rack and a 5-way valve system allows for easy switching between reagents.  The unit utilizes Masterflex® pumping technology to accurately dispense reagents and software can be controlled via an on-board touchscreen or using a laptop.  The user simply picks a digestion method, presses Start and walks away…AutoBlock Fill does the rest.

    If you’re looking to get more out of your HotBlock, check out our new HotBlock 200 & soon to be released HotBlock 300.  These new HotBlocks are everything you love about the original version, but can now reach maximum temperatures of 200°C & 300°C.  These new HotBlocks use an external controller that can control up to 2 independent blocks at a time.  Each controller comes in a unique Kydex® housing that can be mounted to the side of your fume hood via magnets, placed on the countertop, or installed in an empty receptacle on the fume hood.  These new HotBlocks are available from 25-96 wells and cup sizes of 15mL, 50mL, and 100mL or request a custom unit.

    If you haven’t heard, we’ve redesigned our 50mL digestion cup to bring you the Ultimate Cup!  This new cup is molded from the same polypropylene resin you’ve come to trust and comes certified for 68 elements, still the most on the market today.  Our new design features include:  increased wall strength for more durability, graduation lines on both sides, a new linerless cap option, redesigned screw thread profile for a tighter seal, and a deeper dimple on the bottom adding extra stability.  The new Ultimate Cup provides premium performance.

    Is your lab in need of an ultimate low level metals digestion cup? Well look no further!  I present to you the Ultimate Clean Cup, our newest addition to the line of metals digestion cups.  Further utilizing the improvements of the Ultimate Cup this premium cup is specifically designed for trace metals analysis, certified for 68 elements at part-per-billion and part-per-trillion levels.  It’s the most robust certification on the market today.  Each cup is carefully handled and specially packaged to avoid common means of contamination and ready to use in any clean environment setting.

    How antidepressants are ending up in Great Lakes fish
    Monday, 04 September 2017 09:25

    A new study might depress anyone concerned with Great Lakes water quality.

    Antidepressant drugs, making their way through an increasing number of people's bodies, getting excreted in small amounts into their toilets, and moving through the wastewater treatment process to lakes and rivers, are being found in multiple Great Lakes fish species' brains, new research by the University of Buffalo has found.

    Read more here.

    Chemists Say You Should Add A Little Water To Your Whiskey. Here's Why
    Friday, 18 August 2017 09:37

    Chemists Say You Should Add A Little Water To Your Whiskey. Here's Why

    It's a common refrain from whiskey enthusiasts: Adding a few drops of water to a glass opens up the flavors of the drink. Chemists in Sweden provide a molecular explanation for why this works.

    Click here for the full article from NPR 

    Updates to Standard Methods and the newly signed Method Update Rule
    Thursday, 17 August 2017 06:39

    The newest edition of Standard Methods is in print and available for purchase; part number EE1550400. The 23rd edition contains updates to multiple methods (45+) as well as additional clarification and consistency on QC requirements for each method. Of particular interest for us is in the revision for SM2540 Solids. Our very own David Smith was part of the Joint Task Group for this section and helped draft the language that expanded the allowed materials used for evaporating dishes. The StableWeigh™ vessels are included as an example of an accepted alternate material. Also, after more than a decade of operating under an EPA acceptance letter, we are excited that the disposable BOD bottle has been included in this edition of Standard Methods. Both of these products originated from ideas brought to us by lab personnel. Keep the ideas coming so that we can keep making your job easier.

    The long awaited Method Update Rule (MUR) was signed by the EPA administrator on August 7th. Be sure to check your method citations, especially from Standard Methods or ASTM, as many methods have been revised. We are very excited about the enzymatic Nitrate Reductase method from NECi for nitrate/nitrite analysis for Clean Water Act (CWA) reporting that was included. If you haven't already started to familiarize yourself with the new MDL procedure, now is the time. It will become mandatory before you know it.

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