City of Tacoma Environmental Services science and engineering laboratory

Analytical services

The Environmental Services laboratory offers analytical expertise in a number of areas including organic and inorganic chemistry, NPDES compliance sampling, and rigorous QA/QC protocols and procedures. Laboratory services focus on performing analyses in support of a number of key environmental regulations including the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Model Toxics Control Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, and Hazardous Waste Designation rules. Laboratory staff is well trained and highly skilled at performing a variety of environmental sampling and analytical procedures. They are experienced in preparing sampling and analysis plans detailing procedures to use to collect, prepare, analyze, and review data for regulatory and project specific compliance. The laboratory aims to deliver consistently high quality services in a timely manner.  The ES lab is accredited to perform a variety of environmental analyses in three primary areas listed below:

Conventional chemistry

  • Anionic species: chloride and sulfate
  • Demand chemistry BOD and COD
  • Nutrients
  • pH, turbidity, conductance, alkalinity, and solids
  • Total Organic Carbon and Total Nitrogen


  • Analysis available for 27 elements
  • Cold vapor atomic absorption
  • Hardness
  • Inductively coupled plasma (ICP)
  • ICP/MS for trace metals
  • TCLP leaching procedures


  • BTEX and gasoline
  • Herbicides
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Pesticides and PCBs
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • Semi-volatiles
  • TCLP leaching procedures

Major laboratory equipment

  • Lachat QuikChem 8500 flow injection nutrient analyzer
  • OI flow injection Analyzer for low level nutrients
  • Shimadzu Total Organic Carbon Analyzer
  • Shimadzu Total Nitrogen Analyzer
  • DO, pH, temperature, salinity Meters
  • Turbidimeter
  • UV Spectrophotometer
  • 2 Purge and Trap volatiles/Gas Chromatograph-Mass spectrometers
  • 3 Semivolatile Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometers
  • Gas Chromatograph-Triple quadrapole Mass spectrometer
  • Agilent 1290/6440 LC/MS-MS
  • 2 Gas Chromatograph-Flame Ionization Detectors
  • Perkin Elmer Model 3100 Flow Injection atomic adsorption Mercury Analyzer
  • CETAC Atomic fluorescence Mercury Analyzer
  • Milestone DMA Mercury Analyzer
  • Agilent 7500CX ICP-MS
  • Perkin Elmer 7300DV ICP-OES

University of Washington Tacoma research laboratories

The University of Washington Tacoma research laboratories are equipped with analytical instrumentation focused on the detection, identification, and quantification of organic chemicals in the environment.  These laboratories support both target and non-target approaches, including:

  • Quantification of very low concentrations of semivolatile chemicals including parent and substituted PAHs and PCB congeners by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Agilent 7890A/5977A)
  • Quantification of polar consumer products (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, personal care products) by liquid chromatography/MS-MS (Agilent 1290/6430)
  • Identification of unknown (non-target) chemicals by liquid chromatograph/quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (Agilent 1290/6530).
  • Quantification and characterization of marine microplastics by wet chemical methods developed at Urban Waters.