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MPHL Home : DEC Nutrient Section


Shahla Ameli — Supervisor
 
Purpose
 
The NUTRIENT SECTION provides analytical and technical services to determine the suitability of drinking water for human consumption and/or effectiveness of wastewater treatment systems.  Nitrogen and phosphorus testing help to determine the quality of the Bay waters and support the evaluation of the effectiveness of the nutrient reduction strategies used in the Chesapeake Bay recovery efforts.
 
The Nutrient Section is one of the two laboratories that make up the Inorganics Analytical Laboratory. Nutrient Section analyzes drinking water, wastewater, groundwater, surface water, sediments, sludges and special project samples for compliance monitoring programs in support of federal and State environmental regulations such as SDWA, CWA, and Chesapeake Bay Program.
 
Instrumentation
 
The Nutrient Section uses flow injection analyzers (FIA); Lachat 8000 and 8500 series,
HACH spectrophotometers,and discrete multi-chemistry analyzers.
 

Flow Injection Analyzer
Discrete Multi-Chemistry Analyzer
 
Elements Routinely Analyzed
 
The Nutrient Section provides analytical and technical services to determine nitrogen compounds (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite and total nitrogen), phosphate and total phosphorous for the suitability of drinking water for human consumption and/or effectiveness of wastewater treatment systems.  Nitrogen and phosphorus testing help to determine the quality of the Bay waters and support the evaluation of the effectiveness of the nutrient reduction strategies used in the Chesapeake Bay recovery efforts.
 
TEST / MATRIX
CONTAINER
SAMPLE SIZE
PRESERVATION
HOLDING TIME
METHOD
Chemical Oxygen Demand
Plastic
500 mL
4° C, H2SO4
pH <2
28 days
EPA 410.4
Hardness
Plastic
500 mL
H2SO4 or HNO3 pH <2
6 months
EPA 130.1
Nitrogen
Ammonia
Plastic
1 L
4° C, H2SO4,
pH <2
28 days
EPA 350.1
Nitrate+ Nitrite
Plastic
1 L
H2SO4, pH <2
28 days
EPA 353.2
Nitrite
Plastic
1 L
4° C
48 hours
EPA 353.2
Total Kjeldahl
Plastic
1 L
4° C, H2SO4,
pH <2
28 days
EPA 351.2
Phosphorus
Ortho
Plastic
1 L
4° C
48 hours
EPA 365.1
Total Kjeldahl
Plastic
1 L
4° C, H2SO4,
pH <2
28 days
EPA 365.4
 
 
Potential Health and Environmental Concerns
 
Consumption of water contaminated with a high concentration of nitrate is harmful to small children and pregnant women. High levels of nitrate may cause methemoglobinemia (Blue Baby Syndrome), a condition where the blood is unable to carry enough oxygen to support the cells.
 
In the environment, excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus cause algae blooms that block the sunlight, kill the bay grasses and deplete the oxygen in the water when they decompose. This creates “dead zones” where marine life cannot survive