March, 2018

ARA is WBENC Certified!

ARA is proud to announce our new national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Working with ARA and other WBE / DBE / WOSB businesses helps companies meet their Business Diversity Goals. Good for business, good forall! Read all about it here


ARA in the National Spotlight

ARA has become well known around New England for our work in water, air and soil science, but we were lucky enough to have recognition on a National level the past few months!


ARA was among several US companies honored by the Environmental Business Journal (EBJ) for business achievement in 2017. EBJ is widely regarded as the leading provider of strategic information for the environmental industry, and so it was quite an honor for ARA to be recognized by the organization.


A few weeks after the EBJ journal was released, ARA President Sue Sylvester was among 14 female business owners profiled in a new report published by the US Senate Small Business Committee.


Entitled "Tackling the Gender Gap: What Women Entrepreneurs Need to Thrive," the report takes a comprehensive look at the intersecting financial, cultural and structural obstacles facing women entrepreneurs in the U.S. today. Congrats to Sue for helping to highlight the struggles that remain for women in business, and providing valuable tips and hope for young women who are trying to compete in the marketplace. 


ARA’s Vapor Intrusion & VOC Services

We've had an increase in questions and projects related to vapor intrusion (VI) here at ARA. Like many environmental concerns these days, the information about vapor intrusion is changing rapidly, so it's important to stay on top of the latest information available.


The team at ARA is well-versed in the protocols outlined in the various vapor intrusion guidance documents provided by EPA, NHDES, MEDEP, etc., and we partner with some of the largest engineering & environmental firms in New England on VI projects of all sizes.  


Vapor intrusion first stared becoming a concern in the 1990s, as scientists discovered vapor-forming chemicals could migrate from contaminated soil and groundwater into the indoor air of overlying buildings. Obviously, human inhalation of volatile compounds was an immediate concern, and questions about acceptable levels and long term exposure were investigated.


According to the EPA, depending on the type, level and length of exposure, humans exposed to VOCs can experience symptoms ranging from eye irritation, headaches, and nausea to chronic illness and even cancer. The EPA and most states have since released various technical and guidance documents related to VI assessment and mitigation. 


One significant change in relation to vapor intrusion protocol has been the transition away from “exterior near building soil gas sampling” to the collection of sub-slab soil gas sampling, as it is believed that the sub slab samples will provide better evidence of a possible problem in the indoor air above. The information gained from those sub slab samples combined with an IAQ investigation and indoor air samples are necessary components of any vapor intrusion investigation.


ARA provides SUMMA® canister sampling for VOCs, as well as HAPSITE® field Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) services. Our team and our clients rave about the GCMS, as it is extremely portable, results are immediate, customers are given valuable information while our staff is still on-site, and sampling plans can be modified on the fly to target areas of concern and to quickly pinpoint source locations. If you have a project involving vapor intrusion, or would like more information about how ARA can help, give us a call or send an email.


Sources for more information:

· EPA:

· Listing of Vapor Intrusion Guidance by State:



TCLP and the “Rule of 20”

Different projects require different strategies, and at ARA, we want to make sure our clients always have the best information possible.  That’s why we often discuss with our customers about their samples, the tests they are ordering, and their intentions for the data. In many cases we are able to save them a lot of time and money, simply by asking a few questions and making an adjustment to their plan.


A classic example of this is when folks request Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) for their used oil samples. In many cases a totals analysis (not TCLP) can and should be performed on the used oil. Occasionally there is some reluctance based around concerns that this will not meet regulatory requirements. Rest assured, “regulatory procedure” is our middle name here at ARA, and if we are able to save our clients time and money while helping them remain compliant, we call that a win-win!


“Totals” and TCLP tests measure different characteristics, yet by applying the “Rule of 20” with the totals analysis, we are often able to arrive at the same conclusion for less time and cost.


A "total" waste analysis is used to determine the total concentration of a contaminant present, while the more complicated (18+ hour) TCLP test determines if a waste material will leach contaminants into the soil or groundwater. There is a 20:1 dilution ratio required of the original sample for the TCLP analysis, and according to the “Rule of 20,” instead of running TCLP, you can divide your “totals” concentration results by 20 and compare that to the regulatory limits on the TCLP list. Only if your results are equal to more than 20 times the TCLP limit is the TCLP analysis then necessary. 


There isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to regulations, but when affordable alternatives are available, we like to share that information with our customers. If you are not sure about a lab method, protocol, container, or holding time, always ask! ARA wants to help make your job easier and we’re here to help.


Call for Coolers

Hey Spring Cleaners, do you have any ARA coolers hanging out in your office, storage area, loading dock or lobby? Our inventory is low & we wonder if our customers are tripping over them while trying to work!     If  you'd like us to come grab a cooler, just shoot us an email & we'll schedule a visit. Thanks so much!

ARA is happy to be your environmental partner! If you have enjoyed working with us, or have a great experience to share, please take a minute to share your story here.


The Resource Rambler is brought to you by your friends at

Absolute Resource Associates
124 Heritage Ave. Unit #16 Portsmouth, NH 03801  




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