Sample Prep: Easy or Hard?

sample prep
Written by Lane Yago



Yeah, it’s a trick question. Answer: It’s BOTH.

Greetings, fellow T&T’ers. My name is Lane Yago and I’ve been an analytical chemist/chromatographer for a whole bunch of decades with a sub-specialty in sample prep technology. We’ve got a lot to talk about on this blog and I am honored to be a part of the Terpenes & Testing group of contributors.

We’ve gotta see everything.

As we all know, a lot of time is spent on the analytical instrumentation in your lab. Have to make sure you can see all those pesticides (they keep changing the list, right?). And terpenes. And residual solvents. And of course the beloved cannabinoids. And, for some, heavy metals. Have to make sure your LOD and LOQ are right where they need to be. Sound familiar?

The thing is, once those issues are nailed down, they’re pretty much good to go. Let’s face it: These are machines. They do the same thing over and over.

What is it with varying results?

Cut to the recent New West Summit in Oakland. I’m sitting in the audience of the laboratory testing session. Various cannabis testing labs are represented on a panel and after they each have some time discussing questions posed by the moderator, they open it up for questions. A man from the back of the room (standing room only) speaks up:  “I’ve sent the same sample out to different labs – and a few of those labs are represented by you folks on the panel – and I get back very different results. This makes no sense to me. You people are forcing me to send the same sample out to different labs and then average the results. What’s the deal?”  Let’s say he wasn’t exactly pleased.

The responses were somewhat defensive (not surprising). Things like “Well, while the results may seem different, they may still be within the standard deviation…”, “Not all samples are the same”…etc etc. So what’s with all the variability?

Variability: The Achilles Heel of Sample Preparation

In this brand new blog series, we’ll review what’s being done in labs around the country and the world in terms of their sample prep. We’ll review the different instruments, consumables, and techniques that are being adopted. We’ll interview different people to get their take on how they minimize variability and maximize throughput while working to keep precision and accuracy within acceptable limits. We’ll talk about what’s new out there to help you achieve the best results possible.

So come on. Walk with me. Talk with me. Let’s mix it up!

About the author

Lane Yago

The President of Obotics is a guy by the name of Lane Yago. Lane spent his late 20s into his early 40s in the scientific products world…first as an Applications Chemist, then as an Applications Lab Director, moving on to take on roles such as Marketing Manager, Product Manager, VP of Business Development. Lane was one of the pioneers that developed the technology we know today as Solid Phase Extraction (was the managing author of one of the most-used books on SPE today)…and he was instrumental at bringing that technology to the world. When he and his colleagues were producing SPE columns and developing major SPE applications he always was showing the user base how to make sample preparation more efficient and more cost-effective. He and his colleagues brought the first automated SPE online processing system to the market…which is still alive today, albeit after several generations of improvements!

Leave a Comment