Water Quality Laboratory

Water Research Testing Facility at Penn State

The Water Quality Laboratory at Penn State provides water analysis supporting research in a broad range of environmental water quality fields including surface water, groundwater, stream water, and well water. The lab is equipped with a full range of analytical instruments used for qualitative and quantitative analyses of water and various environmental matrices.

The Water Quality Laboratory is equipped with a full range of analytical instruments used for specific water analyses, such as: 

  • pH 
  • Acidity
  • Alkalinity 
  • Anions
  • Cations
  • Mercury
  • Stable Isotopes
  • Various forms of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus 

The lab is equipped with sample preparation laboratory space for sample digestions, extractions, filtration of inorganic and organic analytes from water samples, as well as a wide range of analytical instruments. The Water Quality Laboratory is supported by subject matter experts who are available to assist with experimental design, sample collection, analysis, and data interpretation.  

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The Water Quality Lab is available to assist both Penn State researchers and external clients from industry, government, and other universities.

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To ensure the highest quality of data, Penn State's Water Quality Laboratory follows the Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 23rd Edition. 

All analyses are performed following quality assurance and quality control guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Quality control data are provided to our lab users, along with detailed results for your water samples.


Ion Chromatograph

The Dionex ICS-3000 Integrion HP Ion Chromatograph (HPIC) is equipped with an automated eluent generator. The HPIC  measures concentrations of anions and cations.

Mercury Analyzer

The Milestone DMA-80 Direct Mercury Analyzer measures mercury concentrations in liquid and solid samples.

Automated Wet Chemistry Analyzer

The Seal AQ2 measures concentrations of ammonia-nitrogen, nitrate-nitrogen and nitrite-nitrogen, phosphate-P, and total phosphorus and silica.

Stable Isotopes Water Analyzer

The Picarro L2130-I Analyzer measures stable isotopes (18O and 2H) in water.

Total Organic Carbon Analyzer

The Shimadzu TOC-VCPH measures total organic carbon, dissolved organic carbon, total inorganic carbon, dissolved organic carbon, total nitrogen, and total dissolved nitrogen.

Water Quality Laboratory in Action

Research collaborations with the Water Quality Laboratory

Vegetation and Water Quality

A research team was sampling two multifunctional buffer sites to understand how different perennial vegetation could improve water quality. The Water Quality Lab provided support for analyzing the water samples for anions, total and ortho P, and total suspended sediment.

Analyzing Algae Accelerators

Researchers used the Water Quality Lab to determine the nitrogen levels in surface and subsurface soils on headwater floodplain wetlands in order to help understand downstream water quality.

Elemental Sulfur Investigation

In a study where researchers investigated how elemental sulfur particles formed in cultures of bacteria, the Water Quality Lab supported the project by analyzing the total organic carbon of materials.

Water Quality Lab Staff

Managing Director, Energy and Environmental Sustainability Laboratories


Water Quality Laboratory
Land and Water Research Building
100 Hastings Road
University Park, PA 16802