Chemistry Matters' Blog

news and blog entries from the Chemistry Matters team

  • Blog
2017 Round Up

2017 Round Up

Share this

Thank you for a wonderful 2017!

2017 has been another busy and exciting year for the Chemistry Matters team.

We continued tackling new challenges like source allocating PAHs from oil spills in rivers or superfund sites in the US, we continued our exploration on natural Toluene with a peer reviewed publication (link below) and presented internationally the IAAI conference in Las Vegas.

Thanks to a great team with great clients, we end the year with many successes. Here are some of the issues we tackled:


Hidden Figures

In our work with Plains Midstream we will be presenting a data analysis and statistical approach to making sense of site assessment data collected over years for sites.  Most historical sites have thousands of data points and multiple sampling events.  Our approach cuts through the data to actual analyze what the information is telling you so that the site can be moved towards closure instead of collecting more and more information from another round of monitoring.  We will be presenting a case study at the AGAT Tech Talks early in 2018 describing the approach to show how data can be used to provide a pathway to site closure.


River PAHs

We continued working on our river PAH project. This has been a pet project for the Chemistry Matters team since 2012. PAHs in sediments result from multiple sources such as natural erosion, anthropogenic inputs and petroleum hydrocarbons releases. We have spent many hours collecting samples in southern Alberta, combing the literature for patterns and concentrations and developing software to fingerprint, visual and statistically determine these sources. More to come from CMI on PAHs and PAH publications in 2018.

You can read our blog series on River PAHs Characterization project, we've released part one: an introduction; part two: 2016 - foothills to prairies; and part three: 2017 - Red Deer Lakes, Sulfur Springs and an abandoned coal mine.

Sampling the Bow River Basin
Samples from Lake Louise.

Arsonous Wildfires

In 2017 we continued our work on the complicated issue of identifying ignitable liquid residues (ILRs) on evidence collected from wildfires.  This issue has not been an easy one.  The interferences from natural environments and the combustion formation of more interferences makes the identification of ILRs very difficult.  A solution is on its way and we hope to present and publish this in the coming months.


Burn Test CM-205, of woodchips burned for 360 seconds with no fuel


Publication of our Scientific Technique for Natural Toluene

Following our new technique pioneered in 2016 to identify natural versus petrogenic toluene, which is scientifically defensible and also less expensive than other existing techniques  in soil and water samples using a unique biomarker approach. In 2017, our manuscript was accepted for publication in the peer reviewed journal, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.   We hope this publication brings clarity to the natural toluene issue and provides environmental professionals the knowledge and ability to identify natural toluene in their work.  Any questions on how this can be done, give us a call!


New Partnerships

COGRAD, University of Manitoba

Mount Royal University

University of Alberta

University of Windsor

Statvis Analytics Inc.

SME Response Group


We're on the Move

This year was another busy year for Chemistry Matters Inc. for presentations at local and international conferences. Some of the conferences we attended include:

Dioxin 2017 – Vancouver, British Columbia

IAAI International Training Conference - Chain of Custody and Forensic Arson Analysis – Las Vegas, Nevada

WaterTech 2017 – Banff, Alberta

MRU Science & Technology Day – Calgary, Alberta

AGAT Tech Talks 2017 – Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta

CLRA 2017 – Red Deer, Alberta

8th Annual Multidimensional Chromatography Workshop – Toronto, Ontario


CMI is planning another big conference year in 2018 as well presenting on ignitable liquid residue analysis (ILR), PAH fingerprinting and source apportionment as well as new developments in data visualization for contaminated site assessment. These are just some of the conferences we plan on presenting at in the coming year.

AGAT TechTalks2018

CLRA - Red Deer, Alberta

Our team continues to grow

Demand on niche chemistry consulting services continues to grow and in order to supply our clients with the expertise they are looking for, we have grown.  We are so happy to have added to our team in 2017.  Please visit each of the people’s biographies for more information about the expertise they bring to CMI.

David Megson, PhD

Barry Kelly, PhD

Khalid Lemzouji, MSc

Ehimai Ohiozebau, PhD

2018 Outlook

What are your goals in 2018?  Integrated expertise and response.  We are going to great lengths to bring chemistry as well as advanced statistics and visualization to communicate the results more clearly.

Chemistry Matters looks forward to growing our collaborations with more exciting and unique problems to solve. All environmental projects involve chemistry issues, so we love being your go-to chemists for the variety of complex or perplexing issues.

All the best in 2018.  Have a safe and fun holiday season, and wonderful new year. Thank you for working with us on our passion for nerdy chemistry projects.



Court Sandau

BY Court Sandau chemistry matters

About the Author

Court Sandau

Court is the President and owner of Chemistry Matters – a niche environmental consulting firm which specializes in geoforensics, environmental forensics, biomonitoring, and arson investigations. As an international speaker and expert chemist, Court is often called upon to provide his expert services in oil & gas investigations and litigious chemistry issues.

Read Full Bio

Join the Chemistry Matters Newsletter