RJ Lee Group News

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RJ Lee Group Offers Lower Detection Limits for Respirable Crystalline Silica

October 26, 2017

New OSHA standards for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) have generated quite a bit of discussion among industrial hygiene and environmental health and safety professionals.  Enforcement of the new regulations began on September 23rd, 2017 for the construction industry, with a 30-day grace period so companies had ample time to implement control measures and address any potential issues. Professionals have spent months reviewing the new requirements and re-evaluating their monitoring and control plans to ensure they meet new OSHA standards for respirable crystalline silica. This will likely continue well into 2018 as the rules for general industry and maritime come into effect in June.

Smaller companies may have been compliant with the previous OSHA action levels for respirable crystalline silica, but now find themselves needing to resample and potentially implement new control measures and procedures to ensure worker safety and compliance with the new silica standards.  With over 25 years of experience supporting clients’ industrial hygiene program needs, including processing thousands of respirable crystalline silica samples annually, RJ Lee Group has continued to enhance and expand our cutting edge scientific capabilities and customer support.  Most notably, RJ Lee Group has achieved a 50% reduction in the detection limit for respirable crystalline silica with upgrades to our equipment and technology – an industry-leading advancement within the suite of analytical services we offer our clients to help them comply with the new OSHA silica rules.

While the standard detection limit for silica dust exposure throughout the laboratory industry is 5µg/filter, RJLG’s new equipment and technical enhancements ensures our laboratory can now report detection limits down to 2.5 µg/filter, a significant scientific step forward. More importantly, this provides a significant advantage to our customers. RJ Lee Group is now the only laboratory that can offer this enhanced analytical service for respirable crystalline silica.

The lower detection level (or level of quantitation, aka LOQ) is particularly valuable for clients that experience short duration sampling events and have a low sample volume on the filter, or for those collecting ambient (fence line) samples.  At 2.5 µg/filter, RJ Lee Group offers greater precision and more meaningful results.  In each of the above instances, the potential sample volume on the filter may be insufficient to allow an accurate detection with the standard 5µg/filter capabilities offered by other labs. Without an accurate figure, industrial hygienists and EH&S professionals may not have a reliable set of data upon which to base their control and containment plans and procedures silica dust exposure.

As a result of these enhancements to our analytical capabilities, RJ Lee Group continues to be a leader in the industrial hygiene, materials characterization and industrial forensics laboratory community. Our scientists, laboratory technicians, and industrial hygienists have the scientific and technical experience to support your analytical needs. Whether your project is small, large, or highly complex, we have the resources to support your project professionally, economically, and efficiently.

For more information, please click the button below or call us at 1.800.860.1775.


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NEAFS – Annual Conference

October 20, 2017

Event Dates: November 7 - 10, 2017

Stephanie Hrico and Tarah Helsel will be attending the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS) Annual Conference where they were selected as presenters. Their presentation is titled “Stepping into the Future of Gunshot Residue Analysis: An Overview and Examination GSR in light of the Scientific Working Group for Gunshot Residue (SWGGSR) Guide”.

To view more information about the conference, including a preliminary program, workshop abstracts, hotel information, and registration forms, click here!

November 7-10

Kalahari Resort & Conference Center

250 Kalahari Blvd

Pocono Manor, PA 18349


A Laboratory Stuck in the “Weeds”: a True Cannabis Compliance Story

October 19, 2017

RJ Lee Group supports a rapidly emerging industry by providing cannabis compliance consulting services to laboratories and state agencies. Our experts determine how to successfully apply best standardized laboratory practices to a market that is still establishing its norms. RJLG’s years of experience in laboratory operations and quality management provide the proper skill sets for ensuring the success of cannabis testing labs as well as the state program that ultimately is responsible for consumer safety.

We recently performed an audit of a testing laboratory that conducts quality control (QC) testing for cannabis products. Growers and processers cannot release product directly into the market without an independent laboratory testing it to assure the safety and quality of the product. The information reviewed during the audit showed consistent inaccuracies of original raw data, as well as the information the marijuana lab reported to the client. Suspension of certification for that lab was a direct result of the RJLG audit.

Cannabis laboratory auditing

An integral component of any laboratory audit is the review of the large amount of documentation any laboratory is required to produce, from standard operating procedures to final reports. In this instance, the laboratory was not able to produce approximately half of the requested documentation listed. This finding alone is enough to suspend laboratories certifications/accreditations under many different programs. As the saying goes, “If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen!” From the audit team’s perspective, the inability of the cannabis testing lab to produce the documents is equivalent failing to record the information, and left our auditors questioning if the information was even gathered at all. Did they take the money and actually make a report to the customer? In the worst case scenario, a lab could process more samples, yet avoid spending the time and labor costs to analyze them!

Another discovered issue was that the laboratory did not have a qualified Scientific Director on staff to review test results for a period of time which is a code requirement. However, they somehow managed to produce results for their clients during this same period. Our audit team was able to prove that results were being released to customers during this timeframe by reviewing bench sheets and comparing them to the final reporting dates.

The audit team also proved the laboratory used unacceptable lab practices by reviewing purchase orders and then comparing them to the number of tests completed. The laboratory did not purchase enough supplies to complete the number of tests that were reported.

As a result of the audit the laboratory certification was suspended. The laboratory was not able to operate until they fixed all deficiencies and went through the full certification process from beginning to end.

Auditing for cannabis compliance is a critical component to ensuring a quality product for medical and recreational consumers. For information on cannabis lab auditing services, please click below.


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NJAIHA – October ’17 Dinner Meeting

October 12, 2017

Event Date: October 19, 2017

Don Ewert, Occupational Health Specialist at RJ Lee Group, will be presenting at the New Jersey American Hygiene Association (NJAIHA) October Dinner Meeting providing  an introduction to HazCom 2012 along with a discussion of the impact GHS rules have had on hazard classification of products containing crystalline silica. Using international GHS guidelines and 1910.1200 Appendix A, the presenter will lead participants through a review of the technical methods employed in product characterization. He will also offer a discussion on exemptions which occur under GHS and provide descriptions of the techniques we use to reclassify or “hazard invert” those products containing Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS).

The presentation has the following abstract:

“GHS Classification Shock; Scientific Approaches to Hazard Inversion”

While the regulated community is generally familiar with OSHA’s new standards limiting occupational exposure to crystalline silica, not everyone is aware of the fact that these rules follow closely behind OSHA’s HazCom 2012 regulation specifying the hazards associated with Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) in bulk material. Having adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling (UN-GHS 2015), OSHA now limits the amount of RCS in products to 0.1 weight percent. Should concentrations exceed this value, hazard warnings and control measures must be implemented. Conversely, where materials are shown to contain <0.1% w/w RCS, they are exempt from these regulations and control/containment measures can be waived.

This presentation provides participants with an overview of GHS hazard classification techniques applicable to crystalline silica. The content also includes a description of the mineralogical polymorphs which exist and the various methods used for quantitation. Further supporting this material, the speaker will describe some of the characterization methods applicable to raw earthen materials and detail means by which the specific mineralogical properties can be used to determine RCS weight percent. Participants will also be advised of the UN-GHS and HazCom 2012 rules for hazard designation and given an overview of those exemptions we utilize to reclassify silica containing products as non-hazardous material. Finally, the lecture will look beyond crystalline silica and explore those allowances which exist under GHS and HazCom 2012 regulations to exempt a wide range of materials and chemical mixtures from unnecessary hazard classification and engineering controls.

For more information, please visit the NJAIHA website.

October 19: 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Snuffy’s Pantagis Renaissance

250 Park Avenue

Scotch Plains, NJ 07076



RJ Lee Group, TESCAN and Bruker Steel Inclusion Workshop Focusing on Automated SEM Analysis and Advanced Microanalysis Technology

October 9, 2017

Event Dates: December 4 - 6, 2017


The characterization of inclusions is a critical component of process monitoring and quality control for the steel industry. Automated SEM analysis is playing an ever increasing role in the analysis of inclusions and is evolving into a standard practice in the steel industry.  RJ Lee Group has pioneered the development and evolution of computer controlled scanning electron microscopy (CCSEM) for over three decades, conveying unique state-of-the-science analytical approaches that provide solutions to the most difficult analytical challenges.

RJ Lee Group, is partnering with TESCAN USA and Bruker to host a workshop on automated inclusion analysis with presentations on the past, present and future related to inclusion analysis using CCSEM technology.  There will be hands-on access to TESCAN field emission (Mira3) and Tungsten source (Vega3) SEMs as well as Bruker X-ray analysis instruments including the new Bruker FlatQUAD silicon drift detector (SDD), electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis and Micro-XRF for SEM applications.


Dec. 4-5: Presentations, demonstrations and ‘hands-on’ access to the instrumentation

Dec. 6: Instrument availability for attendees who wish to spend more time on sample analysis

Please be aware that this workshop will be limited to 25 people so that there is sufficient time for the attendees to have hands on access to the instrumentation.

To register for the workshop, please contact Mike Potter by phone at 724-387-1940 or by clicking the button below:

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AIHA – Fall Technical Conference: RJ Lee Group Presentation on Respirable Silica

September 15, 2017

Event Dates: September 19 - 20, 2017

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) – Rocky Mountain Section will be holding its 23rd annual Fall Technical Conference at the Arvada Center for the Performing Arts in Arvada, Co., on September 19-20, 2017.

Don Ewert, IH, and Marc Hugus will be presenting a paper titled “Respirable Silica and the Changing Regulatory Environment” on Wednesday, September 20 at 4pm, discussing the exposure sampling techniques and the analytical methods used to quantify Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS).

For more information regarding the event, click here.

Penn State STEM Exploration Camp Visits RJ Lee Group

August 5, 2016

RJ Lee Group was happy to welcome the Penn State STEM Exploration Camp to our facilities with a recent tour. Hosting students from grades 1-12, the camp focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The STEM camp attendees are introduced to various professions that make use of these critical skill sets, such as those in the medical, research, bioengineering, energy, sustainable resources, and manufacturing fields. Stressing real-world experiences, activities include working in teams to complete practical projects and daily trips to local corporations to learn more about how STEM shapes our everyday experiences.

Erin Repine with Students

Erin Repine leads the tour through the Chemistry laboratories.*

Debbie Novak, STEM/Youth Programs Coordinator for Penn State University New Kensington, contacted Allison Laneve and Kristy Anderson of RJ Lee Group, believing that the students would be interested in the wide variety of industries and companies we work with each day. Twenty campers and their chaperones were given a 90-minute tour of our laboratory and facilities, including the Criminal Forensics Laboratory, Concrete Services Department, Chemistry and Industrial Hygiene Laboratories, Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) Optical Laboratories, and Information Technology department.

Representatives of each group discussed what they do for their clients and the company at large, and how our work impacts the community. The students also invited to take part in some hands-on experiences to give them a better understanding of how STEM is used in our daily tasks.

Patty Kyslinger with Students

Patty Kyslinger talks to students about concrete analysis.

RJ Lee Group performs many projects that determine why concrete from bridges and roads has failed. Patty Kyslinger of the Concrete Services department demonstrated how the group analyzes concrete samples for air bubbles, using black coloring and white powder to reveal the material’s density. She also showed them how concrete is polished, then coated with epoxy dyed with fluorescent coloring to show glowing inclusions under ultraviolet light.

“I really enjoyed the day and our trip to RJ Lee Group, and loved learning all the interesting things about asbestos and concrete,” Anna Novak, a 7th grader in Burrell School District, said after the tour.

Student looks through microscope at RJ Lee Group.

Student looks through microscope at RJ Lee Group.

The manager of the Criminal Forensics and Biopharma groups, Ms. Laneve was enthusiastic about the tour. “They were so inquisitive and interested. They asked a lot of questions, and I definitely think we’re going to see some great things out of that group in the years to come.”

STEM occupations are growing at about 17%, while other fields are growing an average of 9.8%, according to the US Labor Department. Advances in technology and globalization make these careers more important than ever in terms of potential income on a personal level, and competitive position and global leadership on a national level.

“We are very thankful to the Westmoreland-Fayette Women in Business (WIB) for awarding us a grant that allowed Penn State the opportunity to provide information and professional experiences for our community’s youth,” said Patricia Hollinger, Director of Continuing Education. “Our hope is that this program and our excellent visit to RJ Lee Group will make a difference and have positive impact when these students are selecting future careers.

Justin Davison explains the role of Information Technology in laboratories.

Justin Davison explains the role of Information Technology in laboratories.

We would like to thank our other staff members who helped with the tour, including Monica McGrath (TEM Optical), Mike Callaghan (Client Relationship Manager), Erin Repine (Chemistry & IH), and Justin Davison (IT Operations Manager).

For more than thirty years, RJ Lee Group has supported and contributed to STEM education through outreach programs and internships, even partnering with Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington to open a location on campus that provides students with working experience in the laboratory. Everyone at RJ Lee Group wishes the students of the Penn State STEM Exploration Camp good luck in their future endeavors, and perhaps we’ll see you working on one of our labs one day!

*All photos provided by Penn State STEM Exploration Camp.

Stephanie Horner Appointed MAAFS Criminalistics Chair

June 7, 2016

stephanie 1a
RJ Lee Group Forensic Scientist Stephanie Horner has been appointed Criminalistics Chair for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS) for 2016-2017. She has served as Criminalistics Chair-elect since May 2015.

MAAFS features three divisions, catering to different disciplines within the forensic science field: Biology, Criminalistics, and Questioned Documents. As Criminalistics Chair, Stephanie is responsible for choosing and moderating the Criminalistics workshop presentations for next year’s conference. This includes topics in trace evidence, toxicology and drug chemistry, chosen from 2016 event surveys and member requests. At this year’s event, she helped organize and moderate over a dozen presentations and a full-day workshop for attendees, including a talk on mass spectrometry. Read More

Bryan Bandli, Ph.D. Presents Poster on EBSD (TKD) for Asbestos Analysis Industry

May 25, 2016

Event Date: May 25, 2016

Bryan R. Bandli, Ph.D., will be presenting his poster, titled, “EBSD (TKD) as a Tool for Phase Discrimination of Mineral Particulate and Applications to the Asbestos Analysis Industry” at EBSD 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Al. on May 25, 2016. The poster discusses the details of using the Transmission Kikuchi Diffraction (TKD) method of Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) in conjunction with TEM for analysis of air samples for asbestos.

Mobile Detection Lab Testing Underway at Hanford Tank Farms

May 23, 2016

The Tri-City Herald of Kennewick, Wa. has published an article on the RJ Lee Group’s mobile chemical detection unit. The commercially available van, which is outfitted with a mass spectrometer and other scientific instrumentation that detects and measures chemicals in the environment, is currently being field tested at the Hanford tank farms in Hanford, Wa. Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), a Department of Energy contractor, will decide upon completion of these tests whether the unit will be integrated into the existing technology at the tank farms. Read More