ULM Environmental Analysis Lab Tests Wastewater and Soil in Northeast Louisiana

Posted on July 11, 2022

MONROE, LA – The University of Louisiana Monroe Environmental Testing Laboratory is now accredited to perform 85 tests on wastewater, soil and animal tissue to protect the health of lands, waterways and people in Northeast Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality issued the lab with accreditation for six new types of chemical and biological tests, bringing the total number of local assessments from 79 to 85. These approvals will save the ULM more $30,000 per year.

In 1979, the lab opened to help the area’s agricultural industry by analyzing soil samples. Over the next four decades, the lab expanded its services to analyze 85 different types of toxicology tests, including mercury levels in fish tissue, pH levels in soil, and potential lead in waters. worn.

The six new tests include lithium, nitrate-nitrite, phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, and two additional methods for testing nitrate and chemical oxygen demand. Previously, the lab sent these samples to other organizations outside the region. This cost the institution money, as well as valuable client time.

“ULM will process samples faster than sending them to another lab,” said Terri Lancaster, director of ULM’s Environmental Analysis Laboratory. “This will provide excellent service to our customers with regards to turnaround times.”

The ULM has the only accredited wastewater analysis laboratory in the region. Clients range from private residents to the federal government. It routinely tests water quality from 12 different locations on Bayou DeSiard for the town of Monroe, as well as effluent discharges from large industrial facilities to small car washes. These tests ensure the safety and health of Louisiana’s waterways – and, ultimately, the people of Louisiana.

“An industry must meet EPA requirements to discharge water so that it does not pollute waterways. For example, if we dumped everything we wanted into the Ouachita River, it would harm the ecosystem and to the health of all who live in the area,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster leads a team of five staff and students who serve the community with their passion for science. Many students work in ULM’s prestigious toxicology program, one of only six in the country. Their college studies and part-time lab work teach them how to help large ecosystems like the Ouachita River, but also smaller environments like football fields, golf courses and backyards.

Anyone in the public can submit a soil sample and receive recommendations for just $15. Scientists in the ULM lab will make suggestions on what types of plants would grow best in that soil, as well as what fertilizers to use to help those plants grow to their full potential. For details on how to submit a soil sample, call the ULM Environmental Analysis Laboratory at 318-342-1948.

“When you protect the environment, you ultimately protect those who live in the environment,” Lancaster said.