Teledyne Leeman Labs Blog

5 Ways to Avoid Problems When Handling Mercury in a laboratory

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Jun 12, 2015 3:10:34 PM

Mercury is a common element found in the lab, particularly in thermometers, barometers, manometers and sphygmomanometers. Given the danger of mercury, many of these instruments are being phased out in place of more environmental- and health-friendly options. As far back as 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency regulated mercury out of latex paint, and in other industries such as pharmaceutical and agricultural, it is being used less and less.


There are three forms of mercury inorganic, organic and elemental mercury, which is most common in the lab. Each is toxic, but organic mercury, which forms in nature, contaminates fish and pollutes waters. Elemental mercury is a silvery and odorless liquid at room temperature, and is the most common source of occupational exposure. The vapors from a spill can “affects the central nervous system (CNS), producing tremors, mood changes and reduced cognitive, sensory, and motor nerve functions. The kidneys are also affected, with renal failure at extremely high doses.”[i]

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Tags: mercury

5 Reasons Why Lab Managers Should Use Twitter

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Jun 1, 2015 12:57:30 PM

There is little doubt we are in the midst of the social media revolution. Question is, do researchers recognize it?

Researchers have a reputation for being the quiet, studious type. They avoid media attention, and therefore, would shun social media tools such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat or Twitter. A November 2014 article in Lab Manager addressed the social media revolution and social media’s role in the scientific community in the following way:

“Revolutions rearrange the established order. On one side are the disrupters, agents of change who champion social media. The diehards have a different drift—many of the old lions and scientists in positions of power are defenders of the status quo. Betwixt and between are the majority of scientists, who are of different minds about social media.

“Digital tumult rattles science in its entirety. Researchers certainly hear the roar.”[i]

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Tags: Social Media

Wear Metals and Windmills

Posted by Betsey Seibel on May 12, 2015 3:03:00 PM

Drive along I-65 in northern Indiana, and they’re hard to miss. Look as far west and east as you can and there appear to be hundreds of windmills or wind turbines speckling the countryside. These 300-foot giants have three blades, each measuring 120+ feet long and weighing seven tons. The windmills have changed the landscape along the quiet stretch of highway between Indianapolis and Chicago, and some estimate that they produce enough energy to power a city of 250,000 people.   


The average wind turbine is expected to operate 20 years or more, and considering the costs, owners will do whatever it takes to prolong the life. Replacing a gearbox can cost a company more than $500,000 between equipment, labor and lost revenues.  Mechanical breakdown is the most common risk for mechanical damage to the windmill, accounting for nearly 60% of claims. A study by Indian-firm Cholamandalam MS Risk Services found that 15% of total breakdown damage costs are a result of damage to the gear box.


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Tags: Wear Metals

Metals and Edible Oils

Posted by Betsey Seibel on May 5, 2015 11:25:00 AM

Every year, the average American consumes more than 50 pounds of cooking oil. These oils, which are derived from a variety of plants and plants seeds, are used in everything from salad dressings, margarine, shortenings, snack food and frying. Given the fact that these oils are a significant component of American’s diets, it’s important to make sure they are safe for human consumption. In addition to consumer safety, manufacturers need a quality, shelf-stable product that is free from high concentrations of trace elements such as copper, iron, nickel and magnesium. Trace levels of the metals can impact the hydrogenation of the oils and are often a reflection the oils quality.

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Tags: Edible Oils

Are Mercury Levels Rising in Pacific Tuna?

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Apr 14, 2015 11:20:00 AM

When researchers began analyzing fish off of the coasts of Hawaii for mercury contamination, they discovered an alarming trend. In a study published in the journal, Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry, researchers found that levels of mercury are rising at roughly 4 percent per year in commercially captured fish, particularly tuna. The data suggests that the mercury levels are rising because of human activity, and at this current rate, mercury concentrations off the coast of the North Pacific could double by 2050.

In a statement, the lead author of the study, Paul Drevnick, from the University of Michigan Biological Station and School of Natural Resources and Environment, said, “The take-home message is that mercury in tuna appears to be increasing in lock-step with data and model predictions for mercury concentrations in water in the North Pacific.”

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Tags: Hg analysis

Is Mercury Exposure Causing Autoimmune Diseases?

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Apr 6, 2015 11:20:00 AM

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that when it combines with other elements can create inorganic or organic compounds that may be harmful to humans. In water or soil, mercury may combine with microscopic organisms and convert to methymercury, which can accumulate in fish and shellfish. Mercury poisoning has long been associated with brain and kidney damage. New research in the February issue of Environmental Health Perspectives has uncovered that the mercury found in some seafood may pose additional threats, including autoimmune disorders among women during their childbearing years.

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Tags: Hg analysis

Mercury contamination in Lake Onondaga – Part 3

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Apr 1, 2015 11:20:00 AM

The Resurgence of Onodaga Lake - Part 2

This is part three of the Onondaga Lake story. In part two, we outlined what happened once rescue efforts started in the 1970s with new laws and standards that helped to drive change in and around the lake. In this post, we want to focus on what happened after Onondaga Lake was declared a Superfund site in December 1994, and after the signing of an historic agreement in 1998 among the county and various government entities that helped reduce phosphorus and ammonium discharges from the city’s waste treatment plant. It was shortly after this agreement that the water quality started to improve, giving the community a reason for optimism.

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Tags: Hg analysis

Mercury contamination in Lake Onondaga – Part 2

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Mar 25, 2015 11:20:06 AM

The Resurgence of Onodaga Lake - Part 2

This is part two of the Onondaga Lake story, one of prosperity, pollution and revival.  In part one, we documented the collapse of the lake, detailing the years of pollution from the municipal sewage plant and surrounding factories. In this post, we will focus on what happened once rescue efforts started in the 1970s until the 21st century.

As we described in part one of this story, in the 1800s, Onondaga Lake was home to resorts, amusement parks and beaches. Over time, the lake became a dumping ground for waste. One of the company’s along the lake produced soda ash beginning in 1884. “Roughly 6 million pounds of salty wastes, made up of chloride, sodium and calcium were discharged daily to Onondaga Lake from the soda ash facility before it closed in 1986.”[i] And from 1946 to 190, experts estimate roughly 165,000 pounds of mercury were also dumped in the lake.

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Tags: Hg analysis

Teledyne Leeman Labs: A Historical Perspective

Posted by Jason Davis on Mar 20, 2015 4:08:59 PM

History of Teledyne Leeman Labs

OldLeemanLabsInclogoIn 1981 John R. Leeman and Karl Hildebrand founded Leeman Labs to produce analytical instrumentation based on the promise of Inductively Coupled Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES) [also referred to as Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES)] to identify and quantify the concentration of elements within a sample.

PS950ICPOESThis initial success established Leeman Labs as both an innovator and an expert in ICP-OES and lead the company to endeavor into other realms of atomic spectroscopy adding the DC Arc technique and Mercury Analysis to its line of analytical instrumentation.  In 2004 Leeman Labs was acquired by Teledyne technologies to augment Teledyne's existing laboratory and continuous monitoring instruments used in environmental applications, and complement Teledyne Tekmar's organic analysis instrumentation.

Today, its instruments can be found conducting analyses across a broad spectrum of industries and sample types.  The usefulness of Teledyne Leeman Lab’s elemental analysis instrumentation ranges from agriculture to aerospace and forensics to food in over 50 countries.

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Tags: mercury, mercury analysis, ICP-OES, ICP-AES, Leeman Labs

Mercury contamination in Lake Onondaga - Part 1

Posted by Betsey Seibel on Feb 19, 2015 4:49:00 PM

The Resurgence of Onondaga Lake

This is part one of the story about Onondaga Lake, considered at one time to be the most polluted lake in the United States. 


In early November 2014, Honeywell finished the dredging of Onondaga Lake, moving the lake one step closer back to a natural resource that can be used and enjoyed by the surrounding community. The lake in central New York covers more than 4.6 square miles, is one mile wide and 4.6 miles long.  The early story of Onondaga Lake is one of prosperity and growth, turned to abuse and pollution. Once considered a public treasure with popular beaches, resorts and amusement parks, the lake fell victim to industrial development and the impact of a surging population.


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Tags: mercury