Environmental Laboratory Sections

Staff at the Delaware Environmental Laboratory work in specialized sections, providing scientifically credible analytical and technical support to DNREC and other state agencies.

Field Services

The Field Services Section is responsible for collecting the samples that are analyzed by the various sections in the lab. In addition, they provide sampling design and support to DNREC.

Inorganic and Metals Chemistry

The Inorganic and Metals Chemistry Section analyzes samples for inorganic compounds, such as nitrate/nitrite, orthophosphate, ammonia, silica, lead, iron and other ions and metals.

This section uses segmented-flow, injection flow, discrete, ion chromatography, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) and inductively coupled plasma optical mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), following EPA approved methods.

Organic Chemistry

The Organic Chemistry Section analyzes a variety of samples for organic constituents including volatiles, semi-volatiles and petroleum products.

This section uses gas chromatographs with mass spectrometers and other instruments, following EPA approved methods.


The Microbiology Section provides testing for water pollution analysis. Environmental water contains a number of pathogens along with many non-pathogenic organisms. Pathogens that gain entrance into bodies of water arrive there via intestinal discharges of humans and animals.

EPA approved methods are performed on surface water, recreational waters, wastewater and shellfish harvesting water. These routine methods include total coliform, fecal coliform, E. coli and enterococcus.

Molecular Ecology

The Molecular Ecology Section uses molecular techniques, statistics and code, to gain a better understanding of the environment around us through DNA that is integral to all organisms and viruses which can be found in water, wastewater, soil or air.

This section helps detect low-abundance species using non-invasive sampling for rare or endangered species and other microorganisms in surface, ground and waste waters throughout Delaware.

Ecology and Biology

The Ecology and Biology Section uses criteria to identify insect communities inhabiting Delaware waters to establish biological criteria that provides a sound, scientific basis for assessing the status of aquatic communities. Four primary metrics are measured to calculate the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) score, that indicates whether the stream is fully, partially, or not supportive of biological life.