March, 2017

Girl Power: STEM Students Visit ARA

ARA had some special visitors this month! Students from Stratham Girl Scout Troop 10228 recently took a field trip over to our offices in Portsmouth, NH as part of a unit in which the girls are being encouraged to look at stereotypes. The group has been discussing gender, age and occupation in terms of role models, "trying on new hats" and exploring careers that they might not have thought about before.


Troop Leader Tracy Hall set up the visit with ARA because she thought it would fit right in with many of the issues they had been discussing. She wanted to show the girls a successful woman-owned firm, with women in STEM and leadership roles. ARA employs 25, 13 of which are female and 4 of which are on the Senior Management Team. The Girl Scouts took a tour of the facility and heard from various women who work there about their jobs, which range from CFO and Federal Project Manager, to Quality Officer, Site Safety Officer, Lab Analyst, Lab Manager and Marketing Director.


Lab Manager Jen Lowe spoke to the girls about how we test for the various contaminants found in drinking water, Federal Project Manager Danielle Quinn spoke about the types of projects we’ve been managing over at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and Sue Sylvester talked about the importance of our Quality department. But the girls’ favorite moment was hearing our very enthusiastic  Analyst, Alison Keith, talk about her passion for mold, and peeking into the microscope to see stachybotrys and pithomyces at 400x magnification! Cool! Good luck, girls, and come back any time!  (#withcookies) ;) 


Nitrate & Nitrite Notes

At ARA, we often get questions about testing for Nitrate and Nitrite. Also known as NO3 and NO2, these inorganic ions occur naturally in the environment. They are produced when organic material breaks down and releases ammonia, which then becomes oxidized. NO2 and NO3 are very likely to occur when there is runoff from fertilizer use, leaking septic tanks, sewage, and manure. Exposure to drinking water contaminated with nitrates and nitrites above the EPA's allowable limit can cause serious health problems, especially in infants.  


Ion chromatography (IC) is used to test for NO2 and NO3. IC is a form of liquid chromatography, capable of separating and measuring ionic species based on type, size, and resin interactions. As the instrument runs, the sample passes through a chromatographic column, where the ions present in the sample are adsorbed by the constituents in the column. As an eluent liquid flows through the column, the adsorbed ions elute from the column, based on their affinity to the column material. The different separation times of each ion is called the retention time. As the individual ions elute from the column, their concentrations can then be quantified.


Things to K(NO)W Before Submitting Your Samples:

  • Nitrate and Nitrate can be reported separately, as long as the sample is NOT preserved with sulfuric acid.
  • ARA’s reporting limit is 0.1 mg/L for each. The holding time is 48 hours. (again, NOT preserved with sulfuric acid).
  • If the sample is preserved with sulfuric acid, it extends the holding time to 28 days, but this means Nitrate and Nitrite will be reported as one combined result.
  • Samples preserved with sulfuric acid cannot have NO2 and/or NO3  reported separately.
  • Samples preserved with sulfuric acid require a dilution due to the interference caused by the acid, so the reporting limit is much higher. This result represents a concentration of both NO2 &NO3 together.
  • If individual values and/or lower reporting limits are necessary to meet your data quality objectives, an unpreserved bottle must be requested and the sampling/pickup/analysis timeline must be communicated to ARA to ensure the short holding time is met.
  • If a combined NO2 & NO3 value with a higher reporting limit is adequate for your needs, you may take advantage of the longer hold time of the (sulfuric acid)  preserved sample.
  • Both separate or combined NO2 / NO3 values, in addition to TKN, can be used in determining “total Nitrogen.”
  • Communication is very important when you are placing a bottle order, so we are sure to provide the correct glassware.
  • Be sure to indicate the correct analysis on your COC form.
  • If “Nitrate + Nitrite” is checked, we will provide one result.
  • If you need individual results you should  check separate boxes for each “Nitrate” and “Nitrite."

Questions? We’re here to help! Send an email or call us!


Don't Open A Can of Worms

Some of our least favorite calls come from clients we just wish had called us earlier, so we could have saved them from a whole lot of frustration. Their stories are similar; they dove head first into a huge renovation project on an old building, only to find out the debris they're all now standing in may contain asbestos, lead, PCBs, or all of the above.


You know the saying, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Besides the various health concerns facing anyone who enters a contaminated area, the financial and legal implications in these situations can be absolutely devastating. The importance of accurately making hazardous waste determinations on each and every project cannot be overstated, as it is the most common violation of RCRA regulations. 


ARA is certified to conduct hazardous waste surveys for renovations and demolitions; we know the laws, we know the industry, we understand our client’s budget and deadline constraints, and our goals are to always keep everyone safe and compliant. Be sure to give us a call if you have questions about this complex issue. And if you are in a position to help spread the word about environmental compliance and the risks of hazardous materials, please do! Remember, ignorance is no excuse.

ARA is your Resource for

PFAS Testing

You may have heard the news that NHDES is requesting that the following sites should include PFAS as part of their groundwater sampling programs going forward:

  • Active hazardous waste sites
  • Sites with active groundwater management permits
  • Sites with ongoing environmental site evaluation
  • Sites where hazardous wastes / hazardous substance are suspected to be have been released
  • Sites with a history of processes using PFAS
  • Facilities that may have used products containing PFAS
  • Landfills
  • Sites with groundwater release detection permits
  • Fire training areas, airports or sites where significant quantities of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) may have been applied.

ARA is accepting PFAS (PFOA / PFOS) samples at our laboratory in Portsmouth. If you manage one of these sites & need pricing or courier service, give us a call or click here to send us an email.



ARA is proud to be your environmental partner! If you have enjoyed working with us, or have a great experience to share, please take a minute to post about it by clicking on one of the sites below. It would help us a great deal! 


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The Resource Rambler Newsletter is brought to you by

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124 Heritage Ave. Unit #16 Portsmouth, NH 03801  ©2017

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