Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the acceptable holding time for a specific test?
A: Most tests performed under environmental regulations have a method-specific holding time within which the test must be completed. Alpha provides a Sampling Reference Guide for common methods and parameters. Please contact our Client Services representatives for any tests not identified in our reference guide.
Q: What are the sample volume requirements and preservatives for a specific test?
A: Many parameters and methods have specific volume and/or preservation requirements. Alpha provides a Sampling Reference Guide for common methods and parameters. Please contact your client services representative for any tests not identified in our reference guide.
Q: What are Alpha’s hours of operation?
A: Alpha’s normal business hours are:
- 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday for Client Service questions
- 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM Monday through Friday for sample container pickup and sample drop-off. NOTE: Saturday sample drop-off can be pre-arranged during the week by calling our Client Services Department.
Q: What areas do Alpha couriers cover for bottle delivery and sample pickup?
A: Alpha couriers are dispatched daily and cover the following areas: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Southern New Hampshire, Maine, New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Northern Virginia, and 100 mile radius of Cincinnati.
Q: Can you pickup samples or drop off containers today?
A: Alpha requests at least a 24 hour notice for all pickups and bottle orders - more time for large bottle orders. However, we will make every attempt to accommodate our clients' requests.
Q: What is the cost of analysis?
A: The cost of analysis depends upon many factors including: sample matrix, extraction method, analytical method, turn-around time, deliverables, payment terms, etc. For cost estimates, please call or email us and an account representative will assist you in developing a list of fees based on your testing needs.
Q: What are our Reporting Limits?
A: Alpha always endeavors to achieve the lowest reporting limits for the provided matrix. State and federal regulatory programs often have specific action levels that must be achieved. Complex sites with their own Quality Assurance Project Plans also specify action levels and reporting limits. Alpha’s technical client services staff can assist you in setting up a project that meets specific reporting limits.
Q: What is the difference between a Reporting Limit (RL) or Reported Detection Limit (RDL) and the Method Detection Limit (MDL)?
A: A Reporting Limit (RL or RDL) is the limit of detection for a specific target analyte for a specific sample after any adjustments have been made for dilutions or percent moisture. Some state regulatory programs require a laboratory to prove it can reliably "see" down to its RL by setting the RL at the lowest point on the calibration curve. In contrast, the Method Detection Limit or MDL is lower than the RL (often much lower) and is a statistical calculation. Since the MDL is below the point of calibration, results reported down to the MDL are not reliable and must be qualified as estimated values and, as such, carry a "J" qualifier designation.
Q: How quickly can results be ready?
A: Alpha offers a range of Turn-Around Times from Same Day to 10 business days. The standard Turn-Around Time (TAT) for most environmental consultants is 5 business days,. And we take our performance to this standard very seriously. We meet our standard TAT 95% of the time and 45% of the time we are a day early! In addition, Alpha also offers expedited turn-around times of less than 5 days with prior notice for an additional charge.
Q: How is Presumptive Certainty (MA) or Reasonable Confidence (CT) affected by things that can happen during sample collection, sample transport or throughout the analytical process?
A: The evaluation of laboratory data involves taking into consideration any bias that may affect the decision-making process. Any bias associated with a data set is revealed in the quality control information and narrative section within the laboratory report. Alpha technical staff have been involved in several state regulatory workgroups, which have established guidelines for evaluating data. Alpha regularly conducts webinars and training sessions on this topic. Call or email us regarding our training programs.