Field season has started up again here in Colorado, which means that DannyBoy and I get to grab samples from assorted local waterways. (Actually, it’s not as easy as “grabbing” a sample. We also have to characterize the water, which takes a good hour or more.)
Last week we did our first such excursion. After characterizing the water we headed back to lab with our samples and began processing them. We’ve analyzed this site before, but only in a simplistic way–we’re now onto more complicated questions like, “If we chelate the trace metals, how does that affect the process we’re interested in?” So we did multiple trials, each with a different additive.
As usual, the first field work of the season turned out to be a total disaster. We forgot important things (like running a control along with the samples with additives!). We’d totally forgotten basic procedures that used to be old hat to us and had to redo several measurements.
To top it all off, we found out that one of our additives + organic matter = serious interference with our analytical method. (We’d run samples of the additive in DI water before and it caused no issues. But when we looked up its mechanism of action, the problem became glaringly obvious.)
It’s always hard to get back into the swing of things after a winter doing something completely different. But it’s part of the fun of being an environmental chemist in a place with four seasons. We’ll get better soon.