Environmental Analysis Facility

Laboratory Description

DRI’s Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF) in Reno, is a world class laboratory for chemical characterization of air, water, and soil samples in source emissions and at receptor locations.  Analytes include regulated pollutants as well as source markers that allow quantification of contributions from emission sources to ambient pollutant concentrations.  Precision measurements are made of gas concentrations and particulate characteristics such as total solid mass, elements, ionic species, carbonaceous species, organic materials, size distributions, and particle morphology.  Sampling media for gases and particles are prepared, distributed to monitoring sites, applied to sample collection, and returned for analysis.  Continuous monitors are used for gas and particle size measurements, including emerging technologies for portable, low power, and low-cost sensing. Several methods established at EAF are now in widespread use throughout the world, including the IMPROVE and IMPROVE_A analysis protocols for organic carbon, brown carbon, elemental carbon, black carbon, and thermal carbon fractions.

EAF is supported by six professional research scientists, three laboratory technicians, an administrative assistant, and six hourly staff who are often undergraduates pursuing science or engineering degrees. Contacts for the laboratory include:

Dr. Judith Chow
Director, Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF)
Nazir and Mary Ansari Chair in Entrepreneurialism and Science and Research Professor

Dr. Xiaoliang Wang
Deputy Director and Research Professor

Dr. John Watson
Quality Assurance Manager and Research Professor

Mr. Steve Kohl
Laboratory Manager and Associate Research Scientist

In addition to laboratory analyses, EAF professionals assist sponsors in designing environmental sampling and analysis programs to meet specific needs and financial constraints. This includes supplying sampling equipment, training, and submitting reports/publications. EAF provides state and government agencies with the tools needed to identify, control, and reduce environmental contaminants. EAF researchers also collaborate with other scientists at DRI, universities, government agencies, and private sectors to complement their expertise in environmental management, permitting, and assessment in the U.S. and abroad.

EAF prepares and tests sampling substrates and containers in a clean room with positive-pressure air and high-efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) filters. Sample handling is conducted under a laminar flow hood to minimize contamination. Temperature and relative humidity are controlled for sample equilibration and gravimetric analysis. Standard operating procedures (SOPs), quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA), as well as internal and external quality audits, have been established for all analyses. Data processing and data validation procedures integrate field records with analytical data, implement blank subtraction, and perform error propagation. EAF reports each measurement with associated uncertainties and validation flags.

The EAF participates in audits, performance evaluations, interlaboratory comparisons, and accreditation programs. Since 2007, the EAF has been accredited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for the gravimetric analysis of total suspended particles (TSP), PM10, and PM2.5 through the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP). As part of the accreditation program, the EAF undergoes a NELAP quality assessment approximately every two years. EAF also regularly participates in technical systems audits (TSA) conducted by the U.S. EPA.


Judith Chow, Sc.D.
Lab Director


Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512


Atmospheric Sciences