Taking Local Environmental Action

At Suburban Testing Labs, we strive to protect public health and preserve our environment in everything we do.  And that purpose extends beyond lab testing for our clients.  

The Environmental Action Committee (EAC) at Suburban Testing Labs is a group of employees that come together initiating actions to reduce our negative environmental impact. The EAC is committed to promoting positive environmental change by creating a culture of mindfulness, volunteerism, and sustainability. They achieve this through local events, process improvements, and the continuing education of our team.

Established in April of this year, the EAC Committee is led by Lorren Walker of our Administrative Team.  Lorren recently coordinated our EAC’s first multi-day volunteer event: cleaning up the shores of the Tulpehocken Creek.

“I’m really excited that we have people that are willing to clean-up our local area, and care about our environment immediately around us,” said Walker.  “It really puts into practice what we preach.”

The clean up occurred along the Tulpehocken Creek from the Blue Marsh Lake area down to the City of Reading.  Volunteers collected trash along the waterway and walking trail.  Suburban Testing Labs offers 16 hours of paid Volunteer Time Off (VTO) to every employee to encourage staff to get involved in their community.

“It feels great supporting our Purpose right in our own back yard,” said Sara Stump, Marketing Director at the laboratory.  “The best parts were spending time with team members, and seeing parts of the trail I never experienced before.  I loved it!”


The Chemistry of Color

by: Beth Brandt, Environmental Professional – Technical Resource – Customer Service Advocate, Suburban Testing Labs 

Fall is such a beautiful time in Pennsylvania. I enjoy the crisp weather, the apple and pumpkin-related treats that are readily available, and the beauty of Mother Nature as she reveals her glorious landscape of colors in the changing trees. And, as a chemist, I’m also fascinated with the chemistry behind the colors of the changing Autumn Leaves.

As most of us know, Chlorophyll is the chemical that gives plant leaves their green color. Plants require warm temperatures and sunlight to produce chlorophyll – in autumn, the amount produced begins to decrease, and the existing chlorophyll is slowly broken down, diminishing the green color of the leaves.


Carotenoids and Flavonoid pigments are always present in leaves, but as chlorophyll is broken down in the autumn, their colors come to the fore. Xanthophylis, a subclass of carotenoids, are responsible for the yellows of autumn leaves. One of the major xanthophylis, lutein, is also the compound that contributes towards the yellow color of egg yolks.

Cartenoids can also contribute orange colors. Beta-carotene is one of the most common carotenoids in plants, and absorbs green and blue light strongly, reflecting red and yellow light and causing its orange appearance. It is also responsible for the orange coloration of carrots. Carotenoids in leaves start degrading at the same time as chlorophyll, but they do so at a much slower rate; beta-carotene is amongst the most stable, and some fallen leaves can still contain measurable amounts.

Unlike the carotenoids, anthocyanin synthesis is kick-started by the onset of autumn – as sugar concentration in the leaves increases, sunlight initiates anthocyanin production to turn leaves a red color. The purpose they serve isn’t clear, but it’s been suggested that they help protect the leaves from excess light, prolonging the amount of time before they fall.


About the Author…Beth is an Environmental Professional, Technical Resource and Customer Service Advocate serving as Sales Manager for Suburban Testing Labs since 2013.  She has over 25 years of industry experience, and enjoys engaging in technical discussions, presenting topics of relevance, and networking.  Visit her LinkedIn Profile to connect, or email her at bbrandt@suburbantestinglabs.com. 

We’re Falling For You

One of our Core Values is Building Relationships, and during this COVID-19 epidemic, it’s been difficult on our client services and sales teams to not see our clients at events, conferences, and meetings as we usually do.  Since Autumn is in the air, we thought we’d show our clients how much we love them by sharing the warmth of the season with a giveaway!  AND – to make things even better, we are giving away TWO Suburban Swag Baskets.  

Enter to win this Suburban Swag Basket before midnight on Tuesday, October 13th, and you could win:

  • Manatawny Stillworks Whiskey (imagine a hot toddy by the fire!)
  • Yeti Rambler Mug in Copper
  • Magnolia Hearth and Home Candle Sticks
  • Suburban Testing Labs T-Shirt (You Specify the Size)
  • Pumpkin Serving Dish
  • Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Caramel Squares
  • Decorative Cocktail Napkins, Hand Towels and Basket

Suburban Testing Labs is dedicated to providing high quality data, at fast turnaround times, with excellent customer service.  We love our clients, and can’t wait to see you all in person again soon.  In the meantime, enter to win one of these two baskets today!

Enter to win by midnight on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.  

2020 Top Business Recognition

Our Team is celebrating today.  #25 on the list of Greater Reading Top 50 Businesses according to the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, published today in the Reading Eagle Business Weekly.   We have been appearing on this list every year since we were eligible, and once again are featured in the top half.

Awards will be given to these top businesses on September 17, 2020 at the Annual Chamber Dinner. This year’s dinner is virtual, and will feature an evening with best-selling author, social entrepreneur, and combat veteran Wes Moore. Moore will discuss his quest for a meaningful life, sharing valuable lessons learned from the remarkable people that he met along the way. 

“This Suburban Family is a group of talented professionals passionately pursuing excellence while protecting public health, and the environment.” Said Sara Stump, Director at Suburban Testing Labs.  “I credit our team’s adherence to our purpose, core values, and mission as the root of our success.  To be successful here you have to work in harmony with our values.”

Suburban Testing Labs is a nationally recognized independent environmental testing laboratory specializing in analysis of water, wastewater, soil, and solid materials.  We are accredited in accordance with NELAC (National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference) and commit to providing defensible data at a competitive price with first-class customer service.

Suburban Testing Laboratories has 57 years of experience in environmental testing for microbiological, inorganic and organic contaminants.     We continuously rank on the list of Greater Reading’s Top 50 Businesses.

Brave Blue World Documentary Screening


You are invited to a virtual screening of Brave Blue World, a documentary film that examines how new technologies and innovations can create a sustainable water future.

The screening will be held on August 25,2020 at 6:30 P.M. 

A new documentary film titled Brave Blue World examines how new technologies and innovations can create a sustainable water future. The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a production partner for Brave Blue World and is using the film to raise public awareness about the solutions to water challenges.

It is important to convey a sense of hope and spirit of optimism for water. By showing a path to a sustainable water future Brave Blue World can help us to influence leaders, increase resources, change policies, and improve stewardship of water.

The pioneering water film features compelling stories, beautiful scenery, and examples from across five continents to show novel ways of tackling water problems. It explores developments in areas such as water reuse, nutrient recovery, energy generation, decentralized treatment, and the digitization of water. The film includes interviews with a variety of water experts, as well as high-profile advocates Matt Damon and Jaden Smith.Brave Blue World Announcement-Suburban Testing Labs 2020 Caption

Brave Blue World features compelling stories, beautiful scenery, and examples from across five continents that show novel ways of tackling water problems. The film takes viewers on an incredible journey to meet with pioneers and innovators who are addressing global water and sanitation challenges. Their stories reveal a hopeful and optimistic future for our most precious resource.

Before the screening, the film will be introduced by an opening speaker. The film will be followed by a special conversation with a panel of water leaders including:

  • Moderator – Arthur Auchenbach III P.E., Past President of PWEA, EPWPCOA Board Member, President of Riordan Materials Corporation

  • Panelist – Jacqueline Jarrell P.E., WEF President, Interim Deputy Director of Charlotte Water

  • Panelist – Sara Kuzma-Stump, EPWPCOA Lab Committee Chairperson, Director of Suburban Testing Labs.

  • Panelist – Dean Miller, L.O., WEF Board Member, Past President of PWEA and EPWPCOA, President of Miller Environmental

  • Panelist – Tina Myers, L.O., EPWPCOA 1st VP, PWEA representative, Borough of New Holland Wastewater Department Supervisor

  • Panelist – Heath Edelman P.E., L.O., EPWPCOA member, Water and Environmental Technology Instructor at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

  • Panelist – Doug Pike L.O., Brave Blue Word AdHoc Committee Chairperson, PWEA WEF Delegate, Operations Manager of Unity Township Municipal Authority

PA Presentation Partners include: WEF, PWEA, EPWPCOA, CPWQA, and WPWPCA.  Please register to reserve your virtual seat!

documentary trailer

Drowning in Lab Problems? Let Us Keep You Afloat

Missed turnaround times? Unanswered questions or data inquiries?

If any of this sounds familiar, you may be drowning in lab problems. Suburban Testing Labs can help.

Our project turnaround time is currently running at 98.6%. This means we give you deadlines you can trust, and you get your report when you’re supposed to, often earlier than expected.

In addition to fast turnaround times, environmental testing requires a strong commitment to servicing the client.  Our sizable, and local, Client Services Team is dedicated to making your project a success by reliably responding to the needs of our clients.

More About our Client Services Team

Our Client Services Department is comprised of a highly trained team of dedicated professionals.  Your expert Project Manager is assigned to you based on matching experience, and they serve as your main point of contact for any and all account needs.  From ordering sample containers, to technical questions, they are there to get the answers you need.

When it comes to reporting, Suburban Testing Labs has you covered.   We recognize that you can’t wait for results!  We have fast turnaround times, and you’ll have easy access to live data and final reports using our secure Online Report Access system. Routinely, you have three ways of receiving results reports: automatic email, online report access, and a hard copy.  And yes – you can have multiple users receive emails and have online access.

When you require specific electronic reporting/EDD’s, we are here to customize your data deliverables according to your needs.  Plus, we can automate your custom reports directly from our LIMS.

Avoid costly resampling due to lack of lab communication or partnership oversights.  Choose our team of highly dedicated professionals for your next project.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you!

Ready For You

We’re here to answer the call.

Summer is here, and construction projects are running full swing.  Many projects that were put on hold raced to start again when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.  Whether you’ve just started a project, or have one in the works, we’re ready to take on your samples.

We’ve already received thousands of samples for various projects including construction, transportation, brownfield and infrastructure improvements.

Tools to Help You

Do you have new soil samplers on your team?  We have a brief e-Learning training video on our website that can help with training.  Check it out here.

Our Project Management team works closely with your team to gather all specifications to ensure your project is accurate from the start, including parameter lists, reporting limit requirements, and results report needs.  We make onboarding easy.

Our team of Field Scientists are on the road in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware ready to pick up your samples when you need.  We also offer sample receipt here at our headquarters with flexible hours.  When you need samples submitted, we are here to work with you.

Don’t get frustrated with unanswered calls, late or incorrect reports, contact us today to learn how we can help your next project be a success.


Testing Drinking Water

In the face of a global pandemic, one thing you shouldn’t worry about is whether your drinking water is safe.  Water suppliers and treatment professionals have been on-the-job as essential workers.

While we are a full-service laboratory that tests many sample types, we were founded on drinking water analysis and it continues to be a core part of our business.

Suburban Testing Labs by the Numbers

So far in 2020, we’ve performed over 42,000 analyses on drinking water samples from wells and water suppliers that serve more than 2.8 million Americans.  More and more clients place their trust in Suburban Testing Labs to provide them with data that is high quality, defensible and reliable.

We work hard every day protecting public health by ensuring the water we consume is safe.

If you are a public water supplier, treatment professional, operations company, or anyone working to help provide safe drinking water, contact us to learn how you can turn to the local laboratory providing high-quality, defensible data at a competitive price.

Testing Pool Water

Your poolside worries should be limited to swimming, sunblock, and selfies – not bacteria (or COVID-19).  With counties entering the yellow phase, and with green on the horizon, we are starting to see more pools open to the public every day.

Last summer we performed more than 13,700 analyses for public bathing (pool) clients.  Learn what public pools are required to do, how we fit in, and why some pools fail the bacteria test.

Pool Testing Requirements

All pools open to the public are required to have the pool water tested weekly to ensure it is maintaining standards.  The standards in Pennsylvania come from PA Code Ch. 18, and regulated by the PA Department of Health.  Swimming pools can have up to 2 coliform per sample, free chlorine must be at least 0.4 mg/L , and pH must be between 7.2-8.2.

Pools open to the public include year-round pools, not just your neighborhood community pool.  These include pools, spas, and sprinkler pads at hotels, community centers, and retirement communities.

Suburban Testing Labs analyzes pool water year-round.  Our field scientists analyze pH and chlorine onsite, collect a Total Coliform bacteria sample, and transport it back to our microbiology lab for analysis.  If a pool has an excess of bacteria beyond the allowable limit, we contact the client and health department to inform them of the result so corrections can be made.

Why A Pool May Fail Testing

Coliform bacteria are a naturally occurring group of bacteria that indicate the potential presence of other harmful bacteria; even the best maintained pool might have a coliform failure from time to time.

Public Swimming Pool TestingThe most common problem with coliform bacteria is insufficient disinfectant.  The minimum required limit is 0.4mg/L, however the National Spa and Pool Institute recommends a disinfectant residual of 2-4mg/L for normal usage and 3-5mg/L for periods of heavy usage.

The next most common problem is contact time and pH.  Chlorine may require 20 minutes of contact time to completely kill coliform bacteria.  Chlorine also becomes less effective as pH increases.  It is important to have the right balance of both pH and chlorine for adequate disinfection.

Pools are a great way to beat the heat for folks of all ages, but it’s important that standards are met and monitored to ensure that public health is protected.  We are proud to support this part of the environmental protection industry.

Contact us today to learn how we can support your pool testing needs.  info@suburbantestinglabs.com

Analysis of Nutrients in Waters

Total Phosphorous, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Nitrate, and Nitrite are important nutrients for wastewater treatment plants to remove in their treatment processes.  Excessive nutrients in our natural bodies of water stimulate algae and plant growth, create dissolved oxygen issues, and limits the ability of marine life to thrive.  Before wastewater is discharged, operators are challenged with removing these nutrients during the treatment process to protect our rivers, lakes and streams.

Since the Chesapeake Bay Program began to take shape in 2010, many wastewater treatment plants invested in new technologies to achieve nutrient removal requirements.  At the same time new testing requirements and limits began to appear on NPDES permits, and now we are seeing low level compliance requirements statewide.

When samples are collected, how do we test for them?  We wanted to share one important part of our Inorganic Chemistry Department that our clients rely on for the analysis and reporting of nutrient concentration in their treated wastewater to ensure the preservation of our natural water environment.


In the past 12 months our lab has processed over 37,000 samples for nutrient analysis.  Our chemists and lab analyst utilize Flow Injection Analysis (FIA) and Segmented Flow Analysis (SFA) to process these samples.  Our number one goal is always high quality, defensible data.  But these instruments also have the advantage of delivering results to our clients faster, enabling them to make important treatment decisions. 

Flow Injection Analysis (FIA)

Our FIAs are powerful automated chemistry analyzers used for performing analysis on TKN, Nitrate/Nitrite (Combined), and Cyanide (Total and Free).  The continuous flow of samples through the instrument allow us to meet high demand and sample throughput with incredible accuracy.  The instrument consists of an autosampler, a peristaltic pump, a power base module, and detector equipped to analyze. 

Segmented Flow Analysis (SFA)

Our SFA system is primarily used for the analysis of Total Phosphorus, and has the capability to analyze Ammonia, and Nitrate/Nitrite Combined.  The SFA instrumentation operates similarly to a FIA.  Both Segmented Flow Analysis (SFA) and Flow Injection Analysis (FIA) are continuous flow methods that rapidly process large numbers of samples. SFA analysis also adds an inline digestion step which removes the need for separate digestion preparation, and improves opportunities for acceptable quality control, limiting the need for re-analysis.

SFA and FIA utilize the same basic operation including a peristaltic pump that continuously merges samples and reagents in exact proportions that are determined by the internal diameter of plastic pump tubing. The primary analytical difference between SFA and FIA is that SFA mixes by turbulence produced by the introduction of a segmentation gas (bubbles) and FIA relies on dispersion and generation of an asymmetric Gaussian shaped color gradient with a detector response being proportional to concentration.1

As noted above, both FIA and SFA provide the Nitrate/Nitrite Combined result.  For quantitative results of the individual constituents, our chemists utilize Ion Chromatography, a different technology and method altogether.


Our team of analysts work nearly around the clock processing samples from multiple states in the mid-Atlantic region.  Our goal is to get our clients data fast, and so it takes a lot of coordination, communication, and collaboration from our team to make that happen.

While speed is important, high quality, defensible data always comes first.  After our analysts prepare, analyze, and enter results for these samples, our team of Quality Specialists validate the results and quality control associated with each batch of analysis. 

Following validation by our Quality Team, our Clients Services Team then reviews the data again, following a specific checklist of criteria before the results can be released to the client.  Once approved, our client receives the report. 

Our mission is to provide high quality, defensible lab testing data from all our various departments to our clients that is needed for decision making in order to protect the health of the environment, and the public.  While this happens in many departments, the Gravimetric Lab is essential to the success of our overall company mission, and for the decision making of our clientele. 

To speak to a Suburban Testing Labs representative about our testing services or to learn more about our technical resources, contact us anytime.

1 –  Source: https://www.ezkem.com/faq-items/sfa-fia/

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