ALcontrol Laboratories is one of the UK's leading contract analysis companies, specialising in areas including the analysis of air, water, foodland and asbestos. The water group have been operational for more than 25 years and has developed and grown significantly in recent times. One areas that ALcontrol specialise in is the testing of environmental waters to meet very low detection limits for the water framework directive (WFD)

P S Analytical
P S Analytical is a UK manufacturing analytical instrument company, specialising in the analysis of mercury and the hydride elements in solid, liquid or gaseous matrices. P S Analytical provide both laboratory based and plant based equipment that offers ease of use along with high sensitivity plus ruggedness and reliability.

ALcontrol and P S Analytical have worked closely for more than 20 years and ALcontrol have multiple system installations at their testing centres, analysing waste waters, effluents and soils. Recently, Prof K C Thompson became concerned about the difficulties that ALcontrol was facing in meeting the detection limit required for environmental waters relating to the WFD. They has found that their method, using ICP/MS instrumentation did not provide the sensitivity required even with a separate mercury run on the ICP-MS using a significant amount of gold as a stabilisation agent.

Professor Thompson contacted Professor Stockwell (MD of P S Analytical) and asked about the use of the Millennium Merlin instrument for analysis of mercury in a very wide range of environmental waters. Professor Stockwell confirmed that the instrument is ideal for this application, giving excellent sensitivity (up to two orders of magnitude below the required limit of detection) and dynamic range (over 7 orders of magnitude). Additionally, it is very easy to use.

An agreement was reached whereby two systems were ordered just before Christmas 2006, with the senior management proviso that the equipment should be manufactured, delivered, installed, trained and validated before mid January 2007 (sounds like a 'tall order'!).

Everyone in ALcontrol and P S Analytical was committed to this deadline, the system was delivered and installed on the 29th December and the ALcontrol chemists set about the task of validating the system. They achieved validation in just less than two weeks from the system installation and are now using the instrument routinely for the analysis of mercury in environmental water samples.

Pat Cummings, Department Manager at ALcontrol, commented; 'we have worked with a very wide range of analytical instruments over the years but I have never know an instrument that could be set up and operated to provide validation in such a short time, especially when you consider the level of detection that is being achieved'.

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