Frequently Asked Questions


​Scope of Testing

Q: Do you test for bacteria?
A: AST does not carry out Bacteriological testing.  Laboratories known to carry out accredited microbiological testing include but are not limited to:

Q: Do you do asbestos testing?
A: No, AST does not carry out tests for asbestos. A list of accredited laboratories offering asbestos or occupational testing in Tasmania is available by searching the NATA website.

Choosing Tests and Analytes

Q: Can you tell me what to test for?
A: We can provide some general advice regarding testing but AST is not a professional consulting service. If you require professional recommendations on a detailed written report then a professional consulting service may be required. Consultants can be found in the yellow pages or online.  This is further clarified below.

Q: How do I work out what to test for?
A: If you are unsure what to test for, please contact us at AST to discuss your situation and circumstances and our staff may be able to help you decide what analysis is required. We can also refer you to relevant guidelines or regulatory bodies.  

Q: I have an unidentified substance and don’t know what it is.  Can you find out for me?
A: As a general rule, sample submission relies on a client requesting specific tests for each sample. However, on occasions a sample may need to be investigated as an "unknown". Please contact us before submitting your sample. If your sample is unidentified and requires investigation, we may be able to narrow down the breadth of tests required to identify what your sample might be. 

AST is quality-accredited for specific tests, our scope of accreditation is on the “Our Services” page.

Q: How do I know if I can drink my water?
Q: How do I know if my livestock can drink my water?
Q: How can I tell if my soil is contaminated?
A: There is no single answer for these questions, as circumstances will differ for each situation.  If you have concerns about the quality of your water or soil we recommend you call AST where a member of the Client Services team or one of our chemists will be able to discuss your individual requirements with you. See our Resources page for legislated guidelines and information on drinking water, water for livestock and waste classification.


Costs and Payment

Q: How much does analysis cost?
A: Our staff will be happy to discuss pricing with you and assist with coming up with the most cost effective ways of testing.  Formal cost estimates can be provided as an official written quote.

Q: Do I need to pay when I submit the samples?
A: No.  An invoice is sent out shortly after you receive your results report. Please see Make a Payment for payment options.  

Q: What is the admin fee?
A: The admin fee is charged each time samples are submitted. It covers administrative costs including sample receipt, generation of reports, and invoicing.

Q: When do I pay?
A: An invoice will be issued once the job has been reported.  Payment is not required until you have received the invoice. Payment falls due 30 days after the issue date found on the invoice.


Sample Containers

Q: Can I use my own containers to submit a sample?
A: Preferably not. Different tests require different containers. AST recommends that samples are taken into containers provided by the laboratory. Use of non-AST containers may result in compromised results. AST’s containers are prepared in a particular way to ensure they are free of contamination and in some cases contain a preservative for specific tests. Individual tests may require specifically prepared containers you may need more than one type of bottle to cover your entire list of testing. See our Sample Containers page for further information.

Q: Can you send me sample containers?
A: Yes, AST can send out containers as required.  We recommend discussing analytical requirements prior to sampling, so that we can send out the correct containers as required for the analysis requested.
Q: Do you charge for sample containers?
A: No, AST containers are provided free of charge.


Submitting Samples

Q: What are your opening hours and how do I submit samples to the lab?
A: AST is open from 8:45am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Recommended sample drop-off times are 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday to allow for sufficient time to ensure samples are preserved, stored and entered into our system appropriately. Our Contact Us page has further information.

Samples can be delivered in person to the laboratory at 18 St Johns Ave, New Town, 7008, or they can be sent by reply paid post (free of charge) or courier.

Q: When can I submit samples?
A: Samples can be submitted in person or via post or courier services. . Recommended sample drop-off times are 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday to allow for sufficient time to ensure samples are preserved, stored and entered into our system appropriately. Our Contact Us page has further information.

Q: How quickly do I need to get samples back to the lab?
A: Some analytical tests have specific hold times, which mean that the sample must be preserved, or the analysis commenced, within a specified time frame.  AST can provide information on this when discussing sampling and analysis requirements.  If in doubt, we recommend that samples are submitted within 24hrs of sampling.

Q: I will be submitting the same samples on a regular basis.  Can you help?
A: We can save you time with both ordering bottles to be sent to you and in sample submissions.  Upon request AST can set up recurring bottle orders to be sent to you on a regular basis.
We can also set up recurring projects on our system so that all sample ID’s, analysis and reporting requirements are held on file.  That way for future submissions you need only provide your details on submission forms, the name of your project and sample dates and times. For further information see our Analysis Projects with AST page.

Q: My samples may be used in legal proceedings, does this affect things?
A: All AST submission forms include a Chain of Custody section to track sample handovers, for example from sampler to laboratory. This tracks samples from the time of sampling, submission and right through to time of disposal. This can be important to prove the samples were not tampered with by a third party.  Please also tick the legal proceedings box on the submission form. The correct sample containers can be obtained from AST.

If samples may be used in legal proceedings it is recommended advice be obtained before sampling.

Samples can be held at AST for 3 years after reporting, or until AST is advised by you that the samples can be disposed of.

AST's analytical reports are signed and dated by our qualified and trained expert scientists and can be used as evidence if required.

Sample labelling and submission form details

Q: How do I label a sample?
A: All containers are provided with sample labels attached. Complete the details on each sample container in such a way
that each sample can be clearly identified. The date and time of sampling may also be included. Note that several bottles may be required for the one sample depending on tests requested. All containers for the same sample should be labelled the same.
When filling in a submission form, the sample ID on the submission form for each sample should match the description written on the bottles.
Note that the sample ID only needs to be written once on the submission form for each sample, regardless of how many bottles are submitted.

Q: I have multiple samples from the same site taken at different times.  How do I put this on the form?
A: If multiple samples are taken from the same site and have the same sample ID, they will need to be clearly identified by the date and time of sampling. The submission form includes columns for date and time of sampling. Please refer to our How To Complete a Submission Form guided document for further information.

Q: What information do I need to provide with my sample?
A: All submissions must be accompanied by a submission form clearly listing all necessary details.  See Submission Forms for further information on filling in a submission form.
The sample submission form is the source of information that is ultimately provided on your analytical report, therefore please ensure the sample submission form contains all the relevant information you would like on your report such as sampling dates and times and unique sampling site IDs.

Pre-arranged regular sampling projects can be set up with AST to reduce the amount of paperwork required when submitting.

Q: What if I have taken the samples but don’t know what to test for yet?
A: Please contact us if you are unsure what you want to test for.

Samples are usually submitted after a decision has been made regarding which tests are required. However, AST can store your samples for up to three months prior to analysis. Note some analyte holding times may be exceeded, and your tests result may become compromised.

Q: I want the same testing carried out as on previously submitted samples.  How do I specify this?
A: Please write the previous report number on the submission form, or "as per previous job".

Q: Can I have analysis carried out as per a quote?
A: Yes.

If you have previously requested a quote for analysis, the quote number can be listed on the submission form.
Note that quotes usually expire after 30 days so prices may change.


What happens once the lab has my samples

Q: What happens after I submit my sample?
A: Sample data is logged onto our LIMS and samples are preserved and stored ready for analysis. 

A Job Summary is emailed to your nominated report recipients. This includes details of the submission, such as invoicing and reporting details, estimated cost, estimated reporting date, sample details and the analyses requested.

Q: Do I need to respond to the Job Summary?
A: No, however AST recommends that the Job Summary is checked carefully to ensure that all details are correct.  If everything looks correct, no action is required.
Please contact AST immediately if you wish to change anything or if you believe there is an error.

Q: How long does analysis usually take?
A: Usual turnaround time is 10 business days from the date of receipt.
For the purposes of calculating turnaround times, samples received after 4pm are treated as being received on the following business day.

Q: What happens if I need results urgently?
A: Please contact us if you require a faster turnaround.

Q: What happens if I change my mind after I submit the samples?
A: If analysis has been completed prior to notification, the completed analysis will be reported and charged.  If the analysis has not yet been completed we will stop testing and note on the final report that the request for analysis was withdrawn, and you will not be charged for the test.

Q: When will I get my report?
A: Once all tests are complete and results have been checked, a report will be issued as an emailed pdf file to all specified report recipients.  Upon request we can also provide you with an electronic “export” of data in the form of an excel spreadsheet.

Q: I maintain my results in a database.  Do you provide data files that I can use to import results directly into my database?
A: Yes. AST can provide data exports of job details and results at the time of reporting, in addition to the standard pdf report.  Such files are provided as either a txt file, csv file, times studio file or ESDAT file.


The when and how of lab reports and results

Q: What do my results mean?
A: AST does not offer a comprehensive result interpretation service. We can provide information on guideline limits and if they have been exceeded. However, if you are dealing with a complex issue on site then we recommend you employ an environmental consultant.

We can explain the tests and what they measure and possibly why they might be of interest or concern. Please contact us if you have questions.

More information regarding guideline levels is available at our Resources page

Q: How sensitive are your tests?
A: AST’s method detection limits are usually below guideline levels and offer comparable or better sensitivity with other Australian laboratories offering similar services. If the reporting limit for an analyte is “x mg/L” and the concentration detected is below this level, the result will be reported as “<x mg/L”. AST's detection and reporting limits are available upon request. 

Q: What happens if I need more analysis carried out?
A: Further tests can be added to a job currently in progress. If the job has been completed and invoiced then any additional work will be placed on a new job. If you need more samples testing then they also can be added to a job currently in progress.   Note that the estimated completion date will change when either tests or samples are added to an existing job.  

Q: How long to do you keep samples after analysis?
A: Samples are disposed of two weeks after the report is sent to you.  If you require further testing to be carried out and we still have the samples in storage, we can carry out further testing as required.  Note that if analyte hold times have been exceeded analysis may be compromised.

Q: Can you hold samples longer?
A: Yes. AST can hold samples longer than the standard 2 weeks upon request. Please indicate this on the submission form at the time of submitting if possible, or contact us to discuss.

Quality Accreditation

Q: What is NATA?  Why is this important?
A: NATA is the National Association of Testing Authorities.  AST is a NATA-accredited Chemical Testing Facility.
NATA accreditation provides a means of determining, formally recognising and promoting the competence of facilities to perform specific types of testing, inspection, calibration, and other related activities.
Further information is available at our NATA Accreditation and Quality Services page.

Q: Are all your tests NATA-accredited?
A: No.  Tests which are not NATA-accredited are indicated with an asterisk (*) on the final report. However the test results provided for unaccredited tests are often as equally valid as the accredited tests; the main difference being that we have not provided the methodology to NATA for formal assessment.


Back Home