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Drinking water and radiation laboratory branch (DWRLB)

Contact DWRLB:

Phone: (510) 620-2911

Fax: (510) 620-2940

Mailing Address:

California Department of Public Health

Drinking Water & Radiation Laboratory Branch

850 Marina Bay Parkway, MS G-164

Richmond, CA 94804-6403


Chemistry Unit 

The DWRLB Chemistry Unit (CU) provides a wide range of testing services for inorganic and organic contaminants in drinking water and drinking water sources.  This includes regulated toxic metals (e.g., arsenic, lead, cadmium) determined by sensitive analytical techniques such as Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) and Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES).  ICP-MS is also increasingly used to determine unregulated meta​ls and for quantitation of long-lived radionuclides.  CU also determines anions by Ion Chromatography (IC) and Ion Chromatography coupled to Electrospray (ESI) MS and ESI tandem MS.  These anions include: common anions (fluoride, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate); disinfection by-products (bromate, chlorite, chlorate); and miscellaneous anions (perchlorate, chromate, hexavalent chromium).  General water quality parameters are determined by ion-selective electrode, spectrophotometry, distillation, amperometry, and titration techniques.   

DWRLB relies on instrumental analysis to analyze many organic contaminants including gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and mass spectrometry methods in a variety for forms (e.g. purge & trap GC-MS).  Organic contaminant testing includes analyses for federally-regulated and California-only regulated contaminants in drinking water. 

CU is certified by The NELAC Institute (TNI) for testing chemicals in drinking water and belongs to US EPA’s Environmental Response Laboratory Network (ERLN​) as well as the Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA​).  Current research interests include developing, va​lidating new test methods for low level detection of contaminants of emerging concern in public health such as the persistent perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS), pharmaceuticals, nitrosamines etc. in broader water matrixes including recycled water, wastewater and drinking water.

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