Have you seen those YouTube videos showing folks lighting their water on fire as it cascades into the bathroom sink? Pretty scary, huh? In some parts of the world, including the US, people have unknowingly built their homes over large deposits of natural gas. Most of this gas is trapped in layers of shale deep beneath the aquifers that supply their household water.
Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a process used to remove the natural gas from the shale layer, harvesting the gas and making it available for the natural gas market. The big question is how did the natural gas get into the household water?
Was the gas already there or did the fracking cause the natural gas to contaminate their well? To avoid this question, hydraulic fracturing companies test water wells of nearby residents prior to drilling and after the fracking is finished. It sounds easy enough, but can we trust the numbers?
In 2014 the Marcellus Shale Coalition Dissolved Methane Method Workgroup commissioned a blind study of water samples collected at 2 locations. The samples were sent to 15 laboratories. The results showed a great deal of lab-to-lab variability with labs reporting “MEEP” (methane, ethane, ethene and propane) results from 7,400 ppb to 35,000 ppb in the same samples! How can that happen?
Testing labs need reference materials (standards) to calibrate their instrumentation. Currently, these labs are making their own standards. Also, they are not using a second source for this standard to verify that their standard was made correctly. When several labs show a lack of reproducibility (not getting the same results), we can assume that their instruments were not calibrated with accurate reference materials.
VHG Labs , an LGC Standards company, has created anew Certified Reference Material (CRM) that can be used for MEEP instrument calibration and calibration verification. The product is tested and certified following ISO 17034 requirements. The most amazing feature of this CRM is that it is stable under refrigeration for at least 90 days!