Part of the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County (EPCHC) internship is to provide exploration for the intern into the other aspects/divisions which make up the whole of the EPCHC. During the 5th and 6th weeks of my volunteer internship, I shadowed the biological and solids analyst. In the microbiology area, I was able to witness a new form of Enterococcus verification of fecal samples. This analysis is a gram-positive bacterium that has the ability to grow in high concentrations of bile salts and sodium chloride which can be toxic, and life-threatening to humans and other animals.
My visit with another analyst involved the Total Organic Carbon analysis. His samples were in a solid form (rather than the typical aqueous) and he needed to crush the soils and other various samples in a mortar and pestle until the samples were finely ground (like sand). Each sample was placed into a boat and placed into the Solid Sample Machine analyzer which heated the samples up with a Hydrogen carrier gas. A carrier gas is a controlled gas that is pushed through and back in the machines tubing to ensure the samples have been completely removed from the machine once the analysis has completed. In this analysis, his QC and matrix spikes (MS) successfully passed, and proceeded with his 22 samples. Each sample takes about 5-7 minutes to complete its run, making the entire analysis a time-costly one.
The remainder of my 5th and 6th week in the EPCHC lab involved TKN digestion, nutrient filtration, a retirement, and the official announcement of the Governor’s Sterling Award to the EPCHC! The Governor’s Sterling Award is a high honor awarding the agency for its accuracy and dependability. As the EPCHC is a model for the rest of the nation due to the recovery and environmental monitoring accuracy of the Tampa Bay’s ecosystem.