Queens University Analytical Services Unit

The ASU was formed in September 1980 at Queen’s University in order to coordinate chemical analyses being performed at the University. This involved centralizing and acquiring equipment over the years for a large variety of tests. Since its inception, the size of the unit has grown to a total of 6 staff with 3 PhD's.

The ASU is part of the School of Environmental studies. Undergraduate and post-graduate students visit the ASU laboratories for advice and to perform analyses using ASU equipment. Work performed by the ASU is charged on a fee per analysis basis. Undergraduate and post-graduate students can reduce the cost of their analyses by assisting with the analysis in the ASU laboratories under the guidance of ASU technicians.

The ASU is accredited by the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA), for specific tests listed in the scope of accreditation approved by the SCC.

The acting Director, Dr. Graham Cairns, and the staff of research associates and technicians are available to assist with chemical analysis and to advise on analytical and environmental requirements and approaches to problem solving. We also work closely with other service groups at Queen's and can direct inquiries to them or incorporate their results with those of the ASU in a single report.

From the ASU's core principal of 'continuous improvement' we are constantly striving to update and acquire new scientific instrumentation and develop our existing methodology. Equipment at the ASU is obtained through collaborative ventures with local faculty or from funds generated from sample analysis and government project work. The ASU maintains equipment owned by other professors and is responsible for running samples related to academic work and assisting professors and students with processing their samples. In return, the ASU is able to use this equipment for other projects as they become available.

For a more detailed list of ASU instrumentation, select the relevant link from the "Instrumentation" drop-down menu above.

The ASU also has expertise in the general area of environmental assessment and remediation of contaminated sites. Particular areas where we have specialized skills and knowledge are in on-site analysis, work at remote sites and project logistics and management.

The Analytical Services Unit has worked on a wide variety of environmental projects. Current work is associated with the cleanup of former military bases in the Canadian Arctic. Work at these sites has involved environmental assessments, development of cleanup remediation proposals, project management, establishing on-site procedures and solving problems unique to specific sites. Highlights of this work are given below.

  • At Iqaluit, Nunavut, the ASU provided all scientific and engineering services for the complete cleanup of the former military base: methodology for the removal of PCB-contaminated concrete floors was developed.
  • At Resolution Island, Nunavut, barriers were designed and constructed in PCB leachate pathways.
  • Excavation of a landfill in permafrost was carried out at the former DEW Line site at Sarcpa Lake.
  • Cathodic protection of concrete in bridge structures.
  • Nutrient cycling in fast growing hybrid poplars.
  • Research into PCBs destruction using Fenton's reagent was conducted in the laboratory and in the Arctic.
  • Sampling and analysis of the contents of over 2000 barrels for DIAND and DND.


ASU logo