AT Labs Policies, Accreditations, and Lab Report FAQs

AT Labs Policies, Accreditations, and Lab Report FAQs

Assay Technology, Inc. owns and operates two industrial hygiene laboratories. One laboratory is in Boardman, OH and the other is in the corporate office in Livermore, CA.  The laboratories maintain separate accreditations from AIHA-LAP, LLC, but utilize the same LIMS system and quality assurance program. Customer service, A/R, shipping, etc. is primarily done in the California office.  The laboratory in Boardman focuses almost exclusively on performing analyses. The resources listed below are primarily for customers of Assay badges with analysis or other analyses (metals, wet chemistry, etc.). Resources for customers of the badges only (other IH labs or customers with another lab they like to use due to location, established contracts, etc.) are located in the “Air Samplers” section of the menu above.

Laboratory Policies

Privacy and Confidentiality

To ensure that lab reports are sent to the correct person, customer accounts are filed by individual, not by company or workplace. We ask that the person to receive reports be detailed in the “Send Lab Reports To” section of lab request forms and chain of custody forms. To maintain certified customer confidentiality, lab reports will only be released to that individual unless otherwise instructed. We require instruction if:

 The individual does not match the contact for an account number given

 Required areas are incorrectly filled or left incomplete

 Chemicals for analysis are not specified

 Requested chemical/analysis requires permission to subcontract or is not available

Please know that, while you will be contacted, this may lead to a delay in reporting. For more information on filling out your forms, please see our Lab Request Forms below.

General Lab Policies

Laboratory and sample receiving staff adhere to the following guidelines:

 Turnaround time “starts” upon a sample being received by our staff, not when it is logged in or confirmed. Delays in turnaround time or confirmation may occur if paperwork is missing or incorrect.

 Unless otherwise indicated, staff will follow instruction as stated on the lab request form as closely as possible.

 In the case of damaged, missing, or incorrect media types, the customer will be notified of the discrepancy and the sample voided.

 For media not manufactured by Assay Technology (cassettes/tubes/wipes/tabs): as lab blanks need to be analyzed at the same time as a sample to be applicable, a lab blank will be added to a batch when one is not apparently present. If you do not wish for a blank to be added or included a blank whose name is otherwise titled, please indicate so upon sample submission. Resulting analysis or media charges will be invoiced after analysis is completed.

 “Extra” analytes selected on paperwork will be automatically processed regardless of the number of chemicals that were prepaid when originally ordered. Your chemical requests are not limited by your original purchase, and instruction on lab request forms are prioritized. Analysis charges will be invoiced accordingly. 

Rush Analysis

To guarantee reporting time, ALL rush requests need to be confirmed and scheduled with our staff prior to our receiving the samples. Due to lab scheduling, sampling processing, analysis, and extraction methods there are times when a service may not be available. To ensure your rush request is met please: 
 Contact us via email or phone at 800-833-1258 opt 4

 Inform us of the date we will be receiving your samples

 Notify us the quantity of samples we are to receive for rush processing

 Notify us which chemicals you will be requesting

 Have your samples arrive BEFORE 10:30am (priority delivery)

Please know that rush fees will apply and will be invoiced according to the appropriate service level. Service is only billed after report completion. Please see our Service Price List for details. If the rush analysis is a subcontracted analysis, an extra day will need to be added to rush time for processing (e.g. a 2 day rush would instead take 3 days). 

Subcontracting to Outside Laboratories

If we are unable to perform an analysis, but can contract another AIHA-LAP, LLC lab we will offer to do so. We require your permission to subcontract to outside sources. Please know that, aside from analysis fees, an additional handling charge of $35 will apply to each sample batch that is sent.

Subcontracting Between Assay Technology, Inc Laboratories

Assay Technology, Inc operates two laboratories, AT Labs in California (AIHA-LAP, LLC 101728) and AT Labs in Ohio (AIHA-LAP, LLC 100903). The laboratories may subcontract the work to each other if necessary without further notice. On the confirmation of receipt and the final report, the testing laboratory will be noted.

Invoicing and Service Charges

Service charges for non-prepaid media can be referenced by analysis code on our Sampling Guide and compared to our Service Price List.

Lab service billing is done after an analysis is completed. We ask that submitted samples have purchase order (PO) numbers, project name, or a credit card number for reference when invoiced.

Please note there is a minimum charge of $50. Invoices that total under $50 will be charged the minimum. Invoices over $50 will be charged at true cost.

Accreditations and Proficiency Results

California Lab AIHA-LAP, LLC # 101728

Ohio Lab AIHA-LAP, LLC # 100903

Sampling Guide FAQs

What's new about the Sampling Guide?

The new store and the Sampling Guide are the two best functional improvements to the new website.

The new Sampling Guide is a dynamic, filterable document. You can search by badge, chemical, CAS #, test group, etc. The guide will shorten itself to only  show the applicable chemical.

We now show all badges that can collect a chemical instead of just the badge we recommend. So, for benzene, the data for the 521 badge is bolded because it’s the badge that we usually recommend. However, we also show the data for benzene on a 566 and 546 so you can determine the reporting limit if you are considering using one of the other badges.  (Maybe you have a 566 badge, but want to test the air for a 521 recommended chemical, 566 recommended chemicals, and a 546 recommended chemicals. You’ll be able to determine if the reporting limit will be adequate.

There is a section for notes for each chemical. Reminders, requirement, suggestions, are all in the notes section.

 

Why can't some chemicals be analyzed together even though they can be collected on the same badge?

This question is best answered through examples:

Example 1:  The customer wants to collect and analyze total hydrocarbons and isopropyl alcohol on a single 566 badge.  But customer service calls and says it can’t be done.  The customer is confused because both Total Hydrocarbons and IPA can be collected and analyzed on the 566.  Computer service insists Total Hydrocarbons is a list C chemical and IPA is a list A chemical and can’t be analyzed on the same badge.

  • List A:  Carbon disulfide is the primary solvent for extracting (nonpolar) chemicals  from carbon.  So, hexane,  xylenes are OK, but methanol and acetone are not.  Their recoveries are too low.  But, if you add another solvent (co-solvent) to the mix, you can add many polar chemicals to the list.  Alcohols, ketones, acetates.  At AT Labs, we use benzyl alcohol.  So, our standard  solvent mixture is 97% carbon disulfide and 3% benzyl alcohol.  For most badges received, this is an excellent solvent mixture.  However, when you analyze for “Total Hydrocarbons,” you have to use a solvent mixture that doesn’t block the scan.  Approximately, C4 through C15.  And benzyl alcohol blocks C11 through C13.  So you can’t analyze for IPA without the co-solvent, you can’t analyze Total Hydrocarbons with the co-solvent.

Example 2  (keeping example 1 in mind):  Why is there a list B? List B contains chemicals that are blocked by the benzyl alcohol. Instead of benzyl alcohol, we use n-butanol, which blocks other chemicals, but again allows the lab to include many polar and nopolar chemicals.

On the Sampling Guide, we show which chemicals can be analyzed together in the Test Group column. All chemicals with the same Test Group can be analyzed together (unless the Test Group is blank.) The new Guide allows you to filter on Test Group, so you can see everything that can be analyzed together. Keep in mind this works for other badges, like amines, aldehydes, and metals.

Lab Report FAQs

How do I read my lab report (Short video answer)

How do I read my lab report? (Detailed version)

Why doesn't my report tell me if I passed or failed?

Most commonly, a customer will use our badges to monitor a person performing a regular work task for a STEL (15 minutes) or PEL (8 hours).  Then they will compare the result to a published OSHA limit. If this were the only task that customers performed, and there were OSHA STELs and PELs for all chemicals, we would be able to set up a reporting mechanism that would flag the result as a “pass” or “fail.” However, this is not the case. Customers perform all kinds of different monitoring and use regulatory limits from several different agencies while evaluating their results.  There is too much variety to set up a pass/fail system that would be acceptable for all our customers.

If you need assistance interpreting your report, feel free to contact us. We will point to the Concentration Found column and if applicable, the available regulatory limits. However, keep in mind, we are not a trained safety officer performing evaluations on your site and can not make safety decisions for you. If you need the services of a certified industrial hygienist, we have many as our customers and can probably find some that are local to you.

What do all the columns on my report mean?

We have several report formats. But this describes our most common report.  Open this Example Report to follow along with the numbers below.

  1. Lab Sample ID: Every sample that arrives at AT Labs is assigned a unique number.
  2. Lab Code: This indicates which AT Lab performed the analysis. ATOH – our lab in Boardman, OH.  ATCA – our lab in Livermore, CA.
  3. Date Sampled: The date the sampling started. This information is provided by the customer. If no date is provided, this field will be blank.
  4. Client Sample ID: This is the identifier provided by the customer, if any.
  5. Media: Media that was tested. For our Trace Air monitors, 521A – Means one cover removed during sampling. 521B – Means two covers removed during sampling.
  6. Media Lot/Serial Number: Primarily used for AT badge lot and serial numbers. Each badge receives a unique serial number when manufactured.
  7. Analytes Requested:  The chemicals tested.  Keep in mind there are sometimes multiple names for the same chemical.
  8. Quantity Found
    • Total: Amount of chemical detected on the sampling media (badge). This intermediate number does not take into account the Sampling Time/Volume. This number is NOT to be compared to any regulatory limits.
    • RptLmt:  (Reporting Limit) This is the lowest amount of the chemical that can be reliably measured to be on the sampling media.  This is NOT a regulatory limit.  This is a limit of the analytical method.
    • Units:  This is the reporting unit of the quantity found.  It is almost always “ug”, micrograms.
  9. Sample Vol (L): Volume of air collected during sampling. Sampling Volume (L) = Sampling Rate (L/min) X Sampling Time (min). For diffusive monitors, the sampling rate varies depending on the design of the badge and the size of the molecule.  Need a sampling rate?
    Time (minutes): The amount of time the media was exposed to the air. This number is supplied by the customer.  If the customer only reports the sample volume on their COC, this number will be blank.
  10. Concentration:
    • This section used to be called Concentration/Exposure.  To allow for larger font, we use the more generic “Concentration” title.  If there are no values here, the sampling time/volume was probably not provided on your paperwork.  If you have this information, contact us and we will send a revised report.
    • Found:  This is the concentration of the chemical.  This is the number to compare against a regulatory limit.  It is the average concentration for the period time monitored. It is an 8 hour TWA only if the sampling was for 8 hours.
    • RptLmt, (Reporting Limit) This is the lowest level the monitoring system could have reliably measured for the period of time monitored. This is not the regulatory limit.
    • Units, This is the reporting unit of the Found and RL values in the Concentration section is being reported in.  It can change depending on what is applicable for the chemical of interest.  For example, benzene will be reported in PPM, but lead will be reported in mg/m3.  When comparing the Found value to regulatory limits, it is important to make sure the units are the same.

What equations are used to determine the exposure?

Exposure (ug/L) = Quantity Found (ug) on media/(Sampling Rate (L/min) X Sampling Time (min))

Exposure (mg/m3) = Exposure (ug/L)(1 mg/1000ug) X  (1000 L / 1 m3

Exposure (ppm) =  (Exposure (ug/L) X Molar Volume 24.45 (L/mole)/Molecular Weight (g/mole) of Chemical

The sampling rate is either the flow of air through an active sampler (cassette, tube) or the sampling rate for a specific chemical on a diffusive sampler.

Which column has the data that I am looking for?

In most cases, it is the FOUND column in the Concentration section.

Is the exposure a "TWA?"

The exposure on our report is the analyte’s average concentration in the air for the period of time that was monitored. It is NOT necessarily an 8 hour time-weighted average (TWA). It is an 8 hour TWA only if you monitored for 8 hours.  If you want to convert the exposure to an 8 hour TWA and do not know how, please call for technical support at 800-833-1258.  Based on what you know about the environment that was sampled, you will need to decide what happened while you were not monitoring. For example, if you monitored for 5 hours, then what happened during the other three hours? Did you expect the exposure rate would not change or did any possible exposure end?

Is the Concentration Reporting Limit the regulatory limit?

No. The reporting limit is the lowest concentration the analyte would have to be present in order for it to be detected by the analytical method.  It is our goal to have the reporting limit be no more than 1/10th (one-tenth) of the applicable regulatory limit when a customer monitors for expected time periods. So, it is very possible for an analyte to be detected, but not be over the regulatory limit.

Why do the Concentration Reporting Limits vary on my samples even though I am testing for the same chemical?

The reporting limit will vary on samples because it is a function of time. The longer the sample time, the larger the sample volume, which increases the sensitivity of the badge, providing a lower reporting limit. Conversely, a shorter sample time will results in a smaller sample volume, and higher reporting limit.
For diffusive monitors, the reporting limit for each chemical on the same monitor will vary as well. Chemicals diffuse into the monitor at different rates.  A big molecule will diffuse slowly. While a small molecule will diffuse relatively quickly. So the sampling rate will vary depending on the chemical, which means different sample volumes, which means different reporting limits.

What is Total Quantity Found (ug)?

This is an intermediate measurement used in the calculation of the concentration. It is not to be compared against a regulatory limit. The quantity it is referring to is the amount of the analyte that was found on the sampling media in micrograms (ug). Once this number has been determined, the sampling time and sampling rate of the badge are applied to calculate the exposure (ppm).

What does "ND" mean?

ND stands for “None Detected” at or above the reporting limit. In other words, the concentration was so low that the instrument could not detect it.

My result is over the regulatory limit. What do I do now?

It is Assay Technology’s intent to provide smart, effective products and services that people can utilize in their health and safety plan. We are not in a position to be able to manage a company’s safety concerns. However, frequently, customers choose to: monitor the area of concern again, reevaluate their safety equipment (hoods, etc), reevaluate their procedures, and/or hire a safety consultant.

Why are the regulatory limits on the reports?

Many customers have asked for Regulatory Limits to be added to our reports.  We were hesitant to put them on our reports because it is impossible to put all applicable regulartory limits on a single report template. In general, if an OSHA limit was available, we have referenced it. If there was no OSHA Limit, but there was an ACGIH limit, we referenced the ACGIH limit. If neither OSHA nor ACGIH have a published limit, we have referenced a NIOSH limit.  When there were none available, the section was left blank. Please read the disclaimer on the report. Clients should be aware that more stringent international, state, local or organizational exposure limits may supersede the limits included with the report. Because of this, some customers have asked that we NOT have regulatory limits on their reports. Clients wanting regulatory limits removed from their reports should contact our customer service department. It is a simple update to your account.

My result is so high, I suspect there may have been an error. What could have gone wrong with the monitoring?

It is important to thoroughly explore the possibility that there is no error and the concentration reported properly reflects the concentration of the chemical in the air. However, errors certainly are possible. For diffusive monitors (badges), probably the most common error that leads to a very high result is when the badge is splashed with the chemical. Even a tiny droplet can cause a significantly high result. Also, if someone touches the badge while they are working with the chemical of interest, a false high result is possible. These errors tend to lead to extremely high results. Other errors, like not handling the monitors as specified by the manufacturer are possible and can also cause results to be biased high. Certainly it’s possible there was something wrong with the sampler itself or with the analysis at the lab. Obviously, we work very hard to make sure this does not happen. However, we are happy to investigate your concerns when they come up.

What does the message "Caution: Sample not returned within manufacturer's maximum recommended holding time" mean?

Most chemicals are not stable on sampling media indefinitely. There is a length of time between sampling and analysis where the accuracy of the result might be affected due to chemical breakdown, reverse diffusion, etc. Based on storage stability data for a particular monitor, samples that arrive back to the lab after the recommended holding time has been exceeded are flagged with a note to use the data with caution. In many cases, it is not possible to determine exactly how much the results have been affected. However, a badge that should have been returned within a week, but was stored in a freezer for 2 weeks before it arrived at the lab will be less affected than a badge that was stored for 2 weeks in an unairconditioned warehouse in the summer. Recommended holding times are listed on the technical inserts included with all Assay Technology products.

What if I return the badges on the last day of holding time and the lab doesn't analyze the badge until after the holding time expires?

It is important to keep in mind that holding times are the recommended amount of time between when sampling occurred and when the badge is delivered to the lab for analysis.  It is a recommendation, not a requirement.  However, the longer the badges are stored, the more likely there can be a quality issue, such as a high bias due to contamination during storage. It is the lab’s responsibility to storage the badges properly until the analysis can take pace, but, except in the case of the 595 badge, the analysis does not need to take place immediately.

If the badges are returned outside of the recommended holding time, the lab will include a note on the report.  This does not mean the result is invalid.  However, upon reviewing and interpreting the results, the customer should keep the notification in mind,.

Why does the result say "VOID?"

When each sample is received, it is checked to see if it is in good condition. If there is a significant problem and any result that would be obtained from analyzing the sample would be severely compromised, then the lab will not proceed with the analysis. When this happens, the report will read “VOID” in the quantity found column and no exposure will be given.

I included a field blank with my samples and the result was over the reporting limit. What does this mean and what do I do?

Field blanks are used to evaluate any background collected on the sampling media during storage, handling, and shipping.  Reports provided by AT Labs will be lab blank corrected, but not field blank corrected. If you want your report to be field blank corrected, include a note on the Lab Request Form or contact our customer service department. This can be done before or after the report as been completed. For some chemicals, it is common to find low level values in field blanks and is not cause for alarm. These include formaldehyde, ozone, acrolein, and nitrous oxide. In most cases, the background found on the blanks are insignificant to the sample results and/or regulatory limit and can be noted, but not used. There can be cases where field blank results are 5 to 10 times above the reporting limit and can be cause for inquiry. Problems might include sample mislabeling in the field or lab and severe sample cross contamination due to high exposures. Dr. Charles Manning, PhD, CIH, Assay Technology’s Technical Director, authored a document on the subject of field blanks: Blank Correction Of Air Samplers

I did not receive my report.

In the past, final copies of reports were mailed, but now the final copy of our reports can be emailed as a pdf. Now, customers receive their final copies faster than ever before. However, if a confirmation of receipt or report is not received, there could be a few issues that must be resolved. Reports are sent by custservice@assaytech.com. It is possible some email servers will see emails, with attachments, from this email address as potential SPAM and will put these emails into a junk folder. If a report is found in a junk folder, the email server will have to be told to allow emails from this account. Please contact your IT administrator. Otherwise, contact our customer support at 800-833-1258 Option 2. Perhaps the email address we have on file is incorrect.

Do I need a hard copy of the report mailed to me?

No. Previously, only draft reports were emailed or faxed automatically. The only official versions of the reports were the reports printed on letterhead and mailed. With the new LIMS, the reports emailed and or faxed are official copies of the report since they are on company letterhead. That means customers no longer need to be mailed hard copies of the reports. For all the options, including an Excel readable summary of your data, contact our customer service.