Emergency Analytical Support

Paul Ellingson received a call on Saturday morning while at the top of Alta ski resort. An avid skier, Paul is also the Vice President of Chemtech-Ford Laboratories in Sandy, Utah.

Due to a malfunctioning pump, high levels of fluoride had been released into the Sandy City water system. Although the pump had been fixed, city and state officials suspected that the fluoride could have caused metals to leach from pipes and into homes. More data was needed – and quickly.

Chemtech Responds

The city water manager called to see if Chemtech could help. Within a few minutes, additional tap water samples were being collected and Paul was on his way to the lab. He was met by Kris Lyon, Chemtech inorganics supervisor, and several other analysts. The instruments were calibrated and waiting when the samples arrived. Over the next few hours, 65 samples were prepared and analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectroscopy (ICP/MS), cold vapor mercury analysis (CVAA), and ion chromatography (IC).

Initial results showed elevated metal concentrations in several homes near the original fluoride release. Over the next few days, hundreds of additional samples were collected throughout the community to pinpoint trouble spots. Targeted samples were collected in specific homes to identify the exact source of contamination – interior plumbing, faucet fixtures or other problems. The timely data from Chemtech allowed health managers to solve the issues quickly and correctly. Within two weeks, concentrations of fluoride, lead, copper and other constituents in every home were back to safe drinking water levels.

Communicating with Residents

Throughout the process, communication with residents was a concern and priority. In an early meeting with Sandy officials, Paul suggested that Chemtech could build a website for residents to see the test results for their own home. To tackle this task, Paul turned to Tom Workman, Chemtech’s IT Manager. Tom is an expert at creating web and mobile applications for labs and data users.

In this case, Tom needed to work quickly to develop a site that was secure, easy to use and always up-to-date. Within 24 hours, the custom site was available for use. Homeowners are now able to visit the site online, search by address, sort by parameter and compare results with EPA’s drinking water standards.


Analytical Excellence Since 1956

Chemtech-Ford Labs has been a part of the local environmental community for over 65 years. We are a trusted and reliable partner for routine process samples or in an emergency. Please contact us for more details.


Chemtech-Ford Laboratories