University of California, Riverside

Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences Research Laboratory (ESRL)


The University of California, Riverside has a long history of working with the Earth, studying and improving agricultural techniques, and delving into many various studies of scientific research involving air, soil, plants, and water. The Environmental Sciences Research Laboratory aims to continue this work, expanding the Department’s role into providing opportunities for outside agencies to be able to take advantage of our facilities. Our researchers strive for quality and timeliness in regard to our work, while maintaining high safety standards in accordance with campus policies.

Educational Rate
Non-University Rate
ICP-OES Single Element using FAST valve $6.56 - $7.02 $9.64
ICP-OES Single Element without FAST valve $8.25 - $8.83 $12.12
ICP-OES 2-4 elements using FAST valve $7.13 - $7.62 $10.47
ICP-OES >= 5 elements using FAST valve $9.15 - $9.79 $13.44
ICP-OES >= 5 elements without FAST valve $12.53 - $13.40 $18.40
Flash EA: CN $7.17 $3.03 $7.67 $10.54
Flash EA: CNS $9.87 $3.02 $10.56 $14.49
Analyzer AQ2 NO3-N + NO2-N $4.21 $1.96 $4.51 $6.19
Analyzer AQ2 NH4-N $3.41 $2.06 $3.65 $5.00
Analyzer AQ2 NO2-N $3.14 $1.79 $3.36 $4.61
Analyzer AQ2 PO4-P $3.24 $1.89 $3.47 $4.76
Standard Anions (F, Cl, Br, NO2, NO3, PO4, SO4) Anions (Anion-STD) $12.24 $8.19 $13.10 $17.98
TOC (Shimadzu TOC-V) 11.99 9.25 12.83 17.62
Total Organic Carbon of Water
11.99 9.25 12.83 17.62
Other ServicesUnit Price
Sample weighing for Flash EA $4.50
Sample filtration (0.45 µm) $6.50
Sample acidification for TOC $0.95

Only UCR Faculty and Staff May Use Instrumentation


Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), is an analytical technique used for the detection of trace metals. The Environmental Science Research Laboratory utilizes a Perkin-Elmer Optima 7300DV ICP-OES apparatus that combines an SCD detector and an echelle optical system, which enables the unit to measure all wavelengths simultaneously – in the ultraviolet wavelength range from 165 to 403 nm, and in the visible wavelength range from 404 to 782 nm. Samples are introduced into the Optima 7300DV in an aqueous form. Solid samples need to undergo either an extraction or an acid digestion in order to yield a liquid sample for analysis.

Please discuss your procedure with laboratory personnel prior to sample extractions, as some methods may not be compatible with our system.

Flash EA

Elemental Analysis (EA) is a process that analyzes the elemental composition of a chemical compound. It examines the weight percent of each element in the compound to determine the compound’s composition. The Flash EA1112 set up in the ESRL instrument laboratory can analyze C,N and S by completely oxidizing the sample with a catalyst through combustion and further reducing the gases to produce CO2, N2 and SO2 under high temperature reactor chambers.

Analyzer AQ2

The AQ2 system is a flexible analyzer that uses the principle of Discrete Analysis where each test occurs in a separate or discrete reaction vessel. The AQ2+ employs a robust robotic sampling arm working in conjunction with a stepper motor-driven syringe. The syringe is used for aspirating, dispensing and mixing accurate and precise quantities of sample and reagent into miniaturized test tubes, called reaction wells. The sample and reagents are incubated in the reaction wells for a pre-programmed time. A single aliquot is then transferred into the stop/flow Optical Quality Glass Cuvette. The absorbance of the reaction is read in a stationary optical bench to assure the best possible signal to noise ratio. SEAL AQ2 Methods are optimized to ensure that the chemical reaction is brought to full completion and steady state. This completed reaction exactly emulates both the Manual and the Segmented Flow Methods. Once the absorbance is read, the cuvette is thoroughly cleaned, eliminating any carry over or cross contamination.

Standard Anions

The analysis of common anions in environmental water samples is one of the most frequently used applications of ion chromatography systems. The Environmental Sciences department makes use of ion-exchange separation of fluoride, chloride, nitrate, sulfate, bromide, nitrate, and phosphate by suppressed conductivity , using Dionex components. EPA Method 300.0 (Part A) and 300.1 (Part A) are the IC methods used on the system, with a carbonate/bicarbonate eluent carrying an aqueous sample through the resin column, yielding a conductive response for various anions.

Please discuss your procedure with laboratory personnel prior to sample extractions, as some methods may not be compatible with our system.

Shimadzu TOC-V

NPOC measurement is equivalent to TOC measurement using acidification and sparging (IC elimination) defined for official test methods (EPA, ASTM, EN, etc.). As any purgeable organic compounds may be lost from the sample during sparging, the TOC measured by this method can be called NPOC (Non-Purgeable Organic Carbon). Carbon dioxide is detected by an NDIR.

To measure the TN concentration of the sample, the relationship between the TN concentration and peak area is predetermined using a TN standard solution, with a chemiluminescence detector.

Lab Personnel David Lyons
Lab Assistant 

David has a knowledge base acquired from twelve years of analytical research work in the Biogeochemistry Department of the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He will be glad to discuss your analytical needs and help you decide on solutions to your particular challenges.

Submission of samples for analytical testing depends upon the desired analyte(s) to be tested. Please label all sample containers with the following:

  • Investigator Name
  • Unique Sample ID Number/Letter or combination
  • Analytical Procedure
ICP-OES : Metal Detection

Plant and soil samples must undergo a digestion or extraction process in order to yield a liquid sample. This method will likely vary depending upon sample composition, analytes desired, cost, and availability of equipment. Call/email the ESRL for possible guidance with this procedure. Aqueous samples are compatible with the ICP_OES system. Sampled must be filtered to at least 0.45micron filter paper, and preserved with 1% by volume of nitric acid. Samples can be supplied in any clean, leak-proof container, preferably Nalgene or similar bottles. 15ml/sample at the minimum, 50 ml/sample is desired for any possible retesting or re calibration for high levels of analyte.

ICP-OES samples do not require refrigeration.

Ion Chromatograph : Anions

Aqueous samples, which require refrigeration/coolant while in transit and storage. Please use leak-proof Nalgene bottle or equivalent. 10ml/sample is sufficient for analysis.

Flash EA : Carbon/Nitrogen

Samples must be dried at 50-60C overnight, then thoroughly ground and passed through a 100-mesh or finer sieve, and subsequently kept absolutely dry in a dessicator. For analysis, 30 mg for plant samples, or 100mg for soil samples is needed, so you must make sure that the sample is homogenized and that the amount is representative of the whole sample. Storage with dessicant is strongly advised.

AQ2 Discrete Analyzer : NOx, NH3, PO4

Aqueous samples in a volume of 5mls per analyte are required, with 25-50mls being ideal. Use Nalgene or similar leakproof bottles, and keep samples refrigerated during transport and storage.

Total Organic Carbon (TOC) and Total Nitrogen (TN)

Aqueous samples, which require refrigeration/coolant while in transit and storage. Ideally collected/stored in 40ml “Ultra-Low TOC” vials with Teflon lined caps. Samples MUST be filtered through inert filters, nylon is preferred. Acidify with 0.6mL HCl to 40mls of sample. 40 ml/sample is sufficient for analysis.


(951) 827-2970

Mailing Address
ESRL - David Lyons
Geology 2460 A
3401 Watkins Dr
Riverside CA 92521

ESRL clients are UC academics. The Lab also accepts samples, on a limited basis, from other educational institutions. We regret that we are unable to provide testing for individuals or groups that are not associated with an institution of higher learning. Please refer to the following information for private or commercial analytical needs: Soil Testing Laboratory List

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More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Environmental Sciences
Geology 2460

Tel: (951) 827-5116
Fax: (951) 827-4652