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Algae testing

The Tweed Laboratory Centre is a market-leader in algae testing, identification and research.

Various types of algae are found in Australian waters, including blue-green algae, diatoms, green algae and flagellates. Algae are free-floating microscopic plants that grow with light and nutrients. They are natural to waterways and are part of the aquatic food chain. Algae can be detrimental to the water system as they can produce toxins which have been known to cause stock losses. Algal blooms can also cause bad tastes and odours in the water.

Highly trained staff examine water samples through a microscope to identify any potential algal problems. The Centre's testing and reporting supports private landholders, council and other government agencies to roll out early intervention measures to combat detrimental algal blooms.

As a value-add test, we can also genetically test some potentially toxic blue-green algae using Real-time PCR to determine whether a particular population has the genes for toxin production or not.

Microbiological testing

Microbiological testing is important in detecting water-borne diseases which pose a risk to public health. This type of testing will identify pathogenic bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms which occur when the water is polluted with faecal matter. This testing is often performed on drinking water, recreational water (including swimming pools and spas), bores, rivers, lakes, dams etc.

The Tweed Laboratory Centre provides the following microbiological testing:

  • Escherichia coli - drinking water (town water, tanks, bores), streams, rivers, lakes, dams
  • Thermotolerant (faecal) coliforms - swimming pools, outfalls, streams, rivers, lakes, process control
  • Total Coliforms -drinking water (town water, tanks, bores),
  • Enterococci - estuarine waters, outfalls
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa - swimming pools, spas, bottled water
  • Total Plate Count (Heterotrophic) - town water, swimming pools, process control

Chemical testing

Tweed Laboratory Centre offers a complete range of chemical testing services. Testing is available for nutrients, metals, physical testing (such as pH, conductivity), oxygen demand and more. The Centre's experienced staff use state of the art technology and techniques to achieve precision and reproducibility of all their chemical testing services:

  • Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES)
  • Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Flow Injection Analysis (FIA)
  • Specific Ion Electrode Chemistry (ISE)
  • Titrimetric, Gravimetric and General Wet Chemistry

Metals testing

We can provide testing for virtually all known metals of the periodic table. This with the ability to be able to detect to very low levels in water, ensures even trace amounts of possible contaminant metals are detected in both drinking water and environmental water samples. We also offer metal testing for soils in relation to possible contamination.

Organics testing

Using sophisticated Gas Chromatography techniques, we are able to detect a range of organic compounds such pesticides (eg DDT, dieldrin, fenitrothion), petroleum (eg BTEX, TPH, Phenols) and disinfection bi-products (THMs) in waters and soil. The laboratory has been able to provide this service to environmental consultants, councils and land holders.

Did you know? DDT was widely used in Australia for pest control until it was banned in 1987. Because of it's long half life it can persist in soils for decades.

Nutrient testing

The Tweed Laboratory Centre offers the full range of nutrient testing in waters: Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia, Ortho (free) phosphate TKN, Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus using an automated FIA. Most nutrient work is for monitoring waterways and wastewater process samples. Nitrate as nitrogen at levels of 10 mg/L can cause methemoglobinemia in infants and therefore is recommended to be tested for drinking water.

Acid sulphate soil testing

Australia's eastern seaboard has significant areas where the soil is classified as Acid Sulphate. If disturbed and open to the atmosphere, the iron sulphides in the soil oxidise to form sulphuric acid, which will significantly impact on aquatic life including fish as well as causing corrosion of infrastructure. The Tweed Laboratory Centre can identify these soils through both initial screening tests and the more comprehensive chromium reducible sulphur suite of tests from which liming rates for remediation can be determined if required.

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