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2016 Round Up

2016 Round Up

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2016 has been an exciting year. Chemistry Matters tackled many new challenges: from hosting the plenary at the INEF conference in Sweden to handling investigations here at home.

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

Two Big Oil Spills

We started this year with providing scientific oversight for a large oil spill. Having led the scientific investigation in 2015, we were charged with communicating clear results to stakeholders. This included regulators, aboriginal groups and others.

We were called in for another oil spill in an Alberta freshwater river. Using our familiarity with freshwater oil spill investigations, we were able to provide reassurance as we defined the contamination, identified the oil and determined the fate and transport of the oil.

Investigating in Freezing Temperatures

If you haven't sampled in -20 °C dealing with steam and metal fittings, you haven’t lived. Chemistry Matters took on this project along with a number of other geoforensic investigations.

You'll often find us handling gas geoforensic sampling for conventional leaking wells and surface casing vents. In 2017, we predict that we'll be working more on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and focusing on measuring and reducing them.

We joined forces with our partner Ridgeline Canada throughout the year, and we're looking forward to another good year of collaboration.

An Emergency Many Miles Away

Arson and arsonous wildfire investigations continued to be exciting projects. We were flown across the country to conduct legal sampling and provide ignitable liquid residue analysis.


Dr. Court Sandau in a helicopter to travel to wildfire site Dr. Court Sandau in a helicopter to travel to wildfire site


Using experience with petroleum and petroleum products - as well as multivariate statistical techniques - we were able to provide advanced fingerprinting for ILRs. Ever wish you could trace ILRs back to a specific service station? We've been able to provide this advanced level of analysis, and we continue to expand on our approach.

AGAT Laboratories has been an excellent support for arson investigations. They play a major role in legal sample handling and storage and chemical analysis on our arson business.

New Scientific Technique for Natural Toluene

This year, we developed a technique to identify natural versus petrogenic toluene in soil and water samples using a unique biomarker approach. If you need to identify the source of toluene, you can use this technique which is not only scientifically defensible but also less expensive than other existing techniques.

The approach has been accepted by the regulator for determination of natural toluene and is being submitted for publication.

If you're interested in learning more, join us at our events in 2017 where we plan to present more on this work.

We're on the Move

In 2016, we packed our bags and traveled to Edmonton, CalgaryFlorence, Italy and Örebro, Sweden where we spoke on a number of our successful case studies.

We also hosted a new legal sampling seminar which is a topic very near and dear to us. This seminar taught regulators about the fundamentals of legal sampling for all environmental matrices and attempted to provide direct application to challenges from attendees.

We plan to provide more of these courses in 2017, so if you are interested in learning more, contact us or stay tuned for more information.

In 2017, we'll be flying across the globe to talk more about our new research and successful projects. Join us at:

Looking Forward to 2017

What are your goals in 2017?

Chemistry Matters looks forward to more collaborations and more exciting & 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 2017!  Have a wonderful new year, and thank you for working with our nerdy chemistry company.





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.

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