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Environmental Laboratory

The Tennessee State Environmental Laboratory supports the environmental protection functions of state government by performing chemical, bacteriological and radiological analyses of environmental samples including drinking water, surface water, waste water, sediment, air, fish, soil and hazardous waste. Technical areas of the Environmental Laboratory include general and radiological chemistry, water microbiology, chemical terrorism and aquatic biology. Each of these sections ensures that testing capacity is available to support the public health and environmental protection objectives of the state.

The quality of Tennessee’s water bodies (reservoirs, rivers and streams) over time can be assessed by the study of biological indicators such as aquatic invertebrates and diatoms that are collected using various Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and TN Department of Environmental Conservation – Division of Water Resources (TDEC-DWR) methods such as Semi-quantitative, Biorecon or RPS sampling techniques and in-stream characterization assessments.

A sampling of aquatic invertebrate can provide a measurement of water body health unlike chemical analysis or the presence of fish which is unable to identify long-term systemic pollution. These samples are easily non-invasively collected without expensive equipment. The data obtained from these samples can serve to indicate the need for additional data collection. The data is then reported to TDEC-DWR-Planning and Standards, which is responsible for generating reports that summarize the general water quality of surface waters in Tennessee.

The laboratory also collects fish which are then analyzed by the chemistry section to determine the level of pollutants. Tissues are tested for common analytes such as heavy metals, pesticides, and PCB’s.
 

The Chemistry Laboratory supports the environmental protection functions of the state government by performing chemical analysis on samples collected by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and Tennessee Department of Health (TDOH). Consisting of two sections, General Inorganic Chemistry (GIN) and Metals, the laboratory focuses on monitoring the quality of environmental and drinking water.

Samples tested are typically sourced from lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, open wells, private wells, unprotected springs, or from any source where there is visible evidence of contamination.

For more information or help with bottle orders please contact us by email at TDOH-EnvLogin.Health@TN.gov or by calling the Chemistry Laboratory Manager at 615-262-6346
 

The Tennessee Department of Health Division of Laboratory Services provides healthcare facility laboratory outreach support for local, state and national preparedness response plans related to chemical release health emergencies. Laboratory testing would be an integral part of a response to these events.
The Division of Laboratory Services offers free on-site training as guidance for healthcare facility emergency response to human chemical exposure incidents. Please contact the Chemical Terrorism Coordinator to obtain more information or to schedule a training session at 615-262-6399.

Our Chemical Terrorism Laboratory is a CDC (LRN-C) classified level 2 laboratory and must maintain testing capabilities for exposures to chemical terrorism agents such as cyanide, toxic metals, and toxic industrial chemicals. Although Level 2 laboratories test a smaller list of chemical threat agents, LRN-C methods are customizable and can be readily adapted to detect broad classifications of new and emerging threat agents.

For urgent inquiries or assistance during non-business hours, call Dr. Marc Rumpler at 615-516-6856.

There are unique requirements for specimen collection, storage, packaging and shipment of clinical specimens collected during a chemical exposure event.

TO REPORT A POSSIBLE CHEMICAL TERRORIST INCIDENT, CALL THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DESK AT (213) 989-7140.
 

The Environmental Microbiology Unit performs bacteriological analyses on water samples from both public and private water systems. Samples are examined for the presence of the coliform group of bacteria, which are indicators of fecal contamination. Water is not examined for pathogenic bacteria, as the prospect of isolating them from water is very remote.

As a laboratory certified and audited directly by the US Environmental Protection Agency and A2LA, the laboratory adheres to the specifications of methods approved by EPA.

The Environmental Microbiology Laboratory performs bacteriological analyses on water samples submitted by public water systems. Samples are examined for the presence of the coliform group of bacteria, which are indicators of fecal contamination. Water is not examined for pathogenic bacteria. This laboratory does not examine water samples for Giardia or Cryptosporidium.

Environmental Microbiology accepts samples from public water systems, swimming pools, lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, open wells, private wells, unprotected springs, or from any source where there is visible evidence of contamination.

The Environmental Microbiology Department preforms thes following tests:

·       Total Coliform/E. coli testing by either presence/absence or quantitative means.

·       Fecal Coliform by quantitative means.*Knoxville performs Membrane Filtration whereas Nashville only tests for fecal coliform in waste water.

·       Heterotrophic Bacterial Testing

PLEASE NOTE: Samples for presence/absence analysis have a 30 hour hold time. Samples for quantitative analysis have an 8 hour hold time.

Environmental Microbiology provides sterile bottles with required forms for water sampling.

For any questions involving Environmental Microbiology, please contact Kristin Dunaway: Kristin.Dunaway@tn.gov, 615-262-6337.
 

The Tennessee State Radiochemistry Laboratory supports the environmental protection functions of the state government by performing radiological analysis on samples collected by the Tennessee Department of Energy and Conservation (TDEC). Specific divisions within TDEC that collect samples for radiological analysis are the Division of Radiological Health, Division of Remediation, and the Division of Energy/Oversight.
Examples of types of samples that are analyzed include but are not limited to, routine samples taken from the vicinity of nuclear power plants, inspection samples from sites such as scrap metal facilities and privately owned wells. The radiochemistry laboratory is certified and accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation and by the Environmental Protection Agency through a series of audits and by performance test evaluations.