The Laboratory Services Section provides analytical support for the various Programs and Services within the Pollution Control Services Department. These include Air Quality, Emergency Response
, and Field Services
The Laboratory is accredited by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) under the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The laboratory is capable of performing chemical and microbiological analysis on a variety of environmental sample types, such as air, water, soil, and solid waste. These analyses include the classical water quality parameters, such as BOD, pH, nutrients, fecal coliform, etc., and instrumental techniques such as toxic metals and organic pollutants.
The laboratory routinely analyzes the effluents of the approximately 175 industrial and 450 municipal permitted wastewater facilities in Harris County. The operators of these facilities are promptly notified of any permit exceedances so that corrective action can be taken. Most of these notifications result in an immediate satisfactory improvement of the facilities operations.
The laboratory also provides analytical services for special investigative samples that may present environmentally hazardous conditions. Primarily submitted by our Field Investigators and Emergency Response personnel, these samples may be the result of a citizen complaint, an illegal discharge, or an emergency situation such as a spill or plant emissions event.
Air samples collected in support of the Fence Line and Neighborhood Ambient Air Chemical Sampling Program are analyzed in the organic section of the laboratory.
Technical assistance and laboratory services are also provided to local agencies and organizations. Water samples are collected in the Houston Ship Channel, back bays, Clear Lake area, and the San Jacinto River and are analyzed in support of the State of Texas’ Clean Rivers Program. The laboratory also provides analytical services and Quality Assurance oversight of the joint Harris County, City of Houston and Texas Department of Transportation NPDES Stormwater permit. Other organizations that use the laboratory’s services include Harris County’s Environmental Enforcement Division, the Flood Control District and various municipalities. Support also includes advice and expert testimony in various program decisions and litigation.