CES 2016… wait, what?

That’s right, Rebecca and I attended The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This massive show takes over Las Vegas for a whole week. Many of our Product Testing Solutions customers were going to be exhibiting at the show, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to meet our current customers and see if we could interest other companies in our Product Testing Solutions as well. We saw many cool devices being displayed. Drones, virtual reality rigs, augmented reality goggles, fitness tracking gadgets, and smart fabrics were all well-represented.

We decided to focus on the wearable technology section of the show. Any device or material that is worn on the human body would benefit from design testing or quality control testing with our Product Testing Solutions. Wearable technology companies already use our artificial perspiration solutions to see how their electronics or materials will tolerate constant contact with the human body. We have received feedback from customers that testing with our artificial perspiration solution will give different results, when compared to testing with just water. After testing with our artificial perspiration solutions, our customers are confident that their device or material will be able to withstand the harsh environment of the human body.

We met lots of passionate people promoting their awesome products. Many of these people thought we bottled actual perspiration! By the end of the day, Rebecca and I had walked over 7 miles so it was certainly possible for us to collect our own perspiration… However, Pickering Laboratories does not collect actual perspiration. We manufacture artificial perspiration and other body fluids according to industry standard protocols and our own proprietary formula for eccrine perspiration. No humans are harmed in the making of these products.  


Additional information on Pickering Laboratories Product Testing Solutions can be found at www.pickeringtestsolutions.com.

David Mazawa
Technical Support Chemist
Pickering Laboratories, Inc.
1280 Space Park Way
Mountain View, California 94043 USA
Phone: 650-694-6700 ext. 710

New Method Abstract MA 249

ma_249Analysis of Mycotoxins is an important part of food and feed safety.  As regulations tighten laboratories all around the world expand their testing capabilities to include analysis for different types of toxic fungi metabolites. Pickering Laboratories has a diverse line of products designed for Mycotoxins analysis, including Pinnacle PCX post-column derivatization system, UVE photochemical reactor and immumoaffinity columns. We also developed several methods for single families of Mycotoxins as well as multi-residue protocols.

Our new Method Abstract MA249 describes fast and sensitive method for analysis of Fumonisins FB1, FB2 and FB3. Fumonisins are derivitized with OPA reagent and detected using Fluorescence detector. HPLC and post-column conditions of this method are aligned with a method being considered by Chinese National Food Safety Standards as new official method for Fumonisins in food.

Holiday Season Celebrations

How Pickering Labs Celebrates the Holiday Season

Rebecca Smith

The end of the year is always a busy time for Pickering Laboratories.  Not only are we wrapping up all of your orders before the majority of our staff disappear for the holidays, but we also enjoy having a good time around the laboratory.  The two major cornerstones of our December festivities are the formal Holiday Party, held offsite, and the Ugly Sweater and Caffeine Overload party, held right here in the lab!

holiday2016_1Our very own Gloria Garcia does an amazing job coordinating these two events every year, among others.  Second in length-of-employment only to Michael Pickering himself, Gloria has a long history of epic event-planning under her belt.  From Cirque du Soleil and Giants baseball games to waterparks (coworkers and swim suits, isn’t that awkward?!) and picnics, we always are prepared for a good time when we get together. 

The formal Holiday Party is our major offsite social event of the year.  Each employee and their spouse/guest come for a night of tinsel and sequins.  We enjoy hosted food and drink, and we are often treated to an overnight hotel stay or a ‘party bus’ drive up to San Francisco and back.  Always pairing safety with revelry, Gloria ensures that a good time is had by all!  (Not to mention, I always find the best way to properly enjoy a DJ and dancefloor is to celebrate with a champagne toast before the music starts.  At least, that’s one way to cope with the lack of anonymity that comes from working for a company of <20 employees!)

This year, we enjoyed excellent food, drink and ambiance provided by the Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose.  (https://www.hayesmansion.com/)  There was a raffle for gift cards and other fun stuff, a conga line weaving throughout the dining area, and an after-party at the hotel bar for those of us staying overnight.  Everyone was looking so fabulous in their finery that we thought we’d share a few event pictures!  


On the last day of December before the mass holiday exodus, Gloria arranges our Ugly Sweater and Caffeine Overload party.  Fast becoming a favorite Pickering tradition, the party includes a fancy espresso bar catering service!  (http://www.coffeeconceptsinc.net/)  Rich the barista comes in for several hours in the morning and makes custom lattes, mochas, espressos, and the occasional decaf Americano.  By the time three hours of all-you-can-coffee conclude, the Pickering employees are ready for a white-elephant gift exchange and to vote on the ugliest sweater winner!  


Fueled by caffeine and thoughts of the imminent time-off, our party rapidly deteriorates into joking around and gift-snatching (as you can imagine).  There are a great many tricks played during the white elephant exchange and Gloria’s fantastic treats ensure that the “sugar high” stays strong all day long even as the caffeine wears off.

Our employees work very hard in December to fill your year-end orders and to minimize the stocking issues that will come up while they are on vacation.  It is our great pleasure to provide them with humorous and festive ways to let off a little steam while they’re at it. 

Everyone at Pickering Laboratories hopes that you had a happy and healthy holiday season, and that you’re off to a great start on your New Year!  Thank you for your business.


Chromatography Quiz #22

Chromatography Quiz #21 Results

Pickering Labs would like to congratulate our winners of our last newsletter’s AAA quiz: Helene Lachance from Shur-Gain Nutreco, Joy Gottlieb from New Mexico Department of Health Scientific Lab Division, Tom Schneider from Suffolk County Water Authority, and Narjes Ghafoori from LA County Environmental Toxicology Lab!   

cq_21They have each won and will shortly be receiving: A fabulous Godiva gift basket from www.winecountrygiftbaskets.com!   “It’s easy to celebrate with this chocolate collection…!

We hope our quiz winners enjoy this infusion of February cheer.

Thank you all for your submissions!  


The correct answer to the Amino Acid Analysis quiz: 

Although we gave credit for answers indicating Trione oxidation, the correct answer was actually a reduced reactor temperature!  When the reaction was performed inside the heated reactor at a temperature of 120°C rather than 130°C, the peak areas are approximately 2/3 of their original size.  Similar results could also be expected with reduced dwell times or reactor volumes.

Chromatography Quiz #22: Carbamates Analysis

Identify the error made when running the Carbamates chromatogram below and win a prize!  Simply email your answer as well as your full contact information to Rebecca at rlsmith@pickeringlabs.com by March 15th, 2016 in order to win.  You will receive email confirmation that your submission has been received.  The answer to the quiz and winner congratulations will be published in the next issue (to be anonymous, please notify Rebecca in submission).   

Carbamate Analysis for US EPA Method 531.1
Pinnacle PCX post-column instrument (two-pump) is being used in a traditional HPLC setup as recommended by Pickering Laboratories.  The reference chromatogram and troubleshooting chromatogram are both shown.  Can you identify the error made when running the chromatogram?

Pickering Standard: 1700-0063 Carbamate Test Mixture, 2.5 µg/mL, 10 µL injection

Pickering Column: 0846250 Carbamate Column, C8, 4.6 x 250 mm

Normal Operating Conditions: (for reference only, condition changes may be reflected in chromatogram)

Column Temperature: 42 °C

Flow rate: 1 mL/min

Eluent Gradient:








85 15


25 75


0 100


0 100
49.1 85 15
57 85 15


Post-column conditions:

Reagent 1: Hydrolysis reagent CB130

Reagent 2: 100 mg of OPA, 2 g Thiofluor in 950 mL of CB910

Reactor 1: 100 °C, 0.5 mL

Reactor 2: ambient. 0.1 mL

Reagent flow rates: 0.3 mL/min

Detection: Fluorometer λex 330 nm, λem 465 nm

Troubleshooting Chromatogram:


Reference Chromatogram:






AOAC Meeting

aoac-largeDuring 2015 AOAC International meeting, Maria Ofitserova participated in several panels meetings and discussions.

Stakeholder Panel on Dietary Supplements (SPDS) had a full day meeting addressing several interesting topics. The panel received the updates from the working groups and issued a call for Methods and Experts in areas of analysis of Ashwagandha, Cinnamon, Folin C and Kratom.  Standard Method Performance Requirements (SMPRs) presented by the Tea Supplement working group and  Aloin working group were discussed and approved. SPDS also launched three new working groups (Turmeric, Lutein and Collagen) that were meeting the next day to start reviewing fitness for purpose and standard method performance requirements.

Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) had a busy meeting on Saturday. The panel got updates on the group efforts to introduce SPIFAN Official Methods to CODEX and other international activities. Of the particular interest during this meeting was the presentation given on Chinese perspective on contaminants in milk and milk powder. The presentation brought better understanding of how regulations and methods approval process works in China. We also heard an update on long-standing issue of Whey protein/casein ratio in infant formula and milk powder.

SPIFAN Expert Review Panel met to discuss several methods submitted for First Action Status, Final Action Status and Dispute Resolution status. This year SPIFAN ERP was named “Expert Review Panel of the Year”.

Pickering is looking forward to continue its work as part of AOAC.

AATCC Meeting

aatcc-logo-largeArtificial Eccrine Perspiration and Consumer Goods Testing

American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) is a worldwide association of professionals active in textile wet processing. It was my great pleasure to join the AATCC regional California meeting in San Francisco and meet all of the other new members.  AATCC approved the new chapter, and it will be great to work with these textile professionals more in the near future.  Recently, AATCC also published a great article about artificial perspiration and how it impacts the textiles and wearable technology industries.  I am including more information below, but please check out the article at: http://www.aatcc.org/pub/aatcc-news/newsletters/1015b-story1/

Perspiration mimics have long been used by many industries to “sweat test” products such as textiles, dyes, cosmetics, credit cards, shoe leather, jewelry, and forensic fingerprint I.D., etc. Normally, a sweat mimic is concocted at the time of the test from a formula that varies by industry.  The industry-specific formulas contain only two to four components that represent a specific challenge: corrosion, textile staining, dye bleeding, magnetic strip damage, etc. 

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) describes procedures to test many products in the presence of a sweat mimic. According to Michael Pickering, “we were guided by the multiplicity of such tests to develop an artificial perspiration that can yield reproducible results independent of the test.”

Pickering Laboratories created an eccrine solution that allows standardization across all industries; it is the only formula that can satisfy all test challenges.  To facilitate tests on such materials as leather or cosmetics, where culture growth is the challenge, non-preserved formulas are available. 

Reproducible Results Anywhere, Anytime

A typical example of sweat testing in the jewelry industry is to determine the amount of nickel released by perspiration from alloys of gold, nickel, platinum or palladium, called “white gold.”  The nickel leached from these alloys by natural perspiration can cause allergic reactions. Increasing the amount of platinum/palladium in the alloy helps prevent the release of nickel but steeply increases the cost. The problem is thus to determine the minimum amount of noble metals necessary to keep the level of nickel released so as not to exceed the regulated level.  The test specifications vary by country wherever nickel is permitted.  Since the frequency of allergic reaction to nickel is high, the United States forbids the use of nickel in white gold formulations. 

Reproducible artificial perspiration solutions are paramount to forensic fingerprint investigation. Latent prints are made visible by reagents like ninhydrin that dye amines found in eccrine perspiration. To check that a null result is actually the absence of prints and not the results of test failure, crime scene investigation technicians make a control print of their own finger on a similar surface. To standardize this control print, Crime Science, Inc. offers Swetcheck™ artificial perspiration manufactured by Pickering Labs and dispensed in single-use sterile swabs.


Consumer products testing laboratories and manufacturers that do sweat testing on materials such as textiles, dyes, cosmetics, credit cards, jewelry and metals, coatings and finishings, polymers, leather, wood, keyboards, and any other testing application that would benefit from guaranteed reproducible results with artificial perspiration.






Safety Fun, First

Rebecca Smith

Pickering Labs decided to place an increased awareness on Safety for 2015!  Don’t get me wrong – laboratory safety is always critical.  We have proper equipment for lifting heavy packages, we provide lab coats and goggles, our employees always use gloves, and we host ergonomics training.  But none of these are especially glamourous, and I have to be careful not to schedule my spill cleanup presentations for right after lunch… 

So this year, we really spiced up some of our safety meetings!  Starting in January, we got the entire company out in the parking lot and had live fire training for proper extinguisher use.  The group had a great time, and the Cintas trainers made fire safety really fun!  Each person got to take a turn, and even Michael Pickering was out there wielding his ABC extinguisher with style.


If you’ve never had “live fire” training for your fire extinguisher class, let me be the first to recommend it.  The whole group was buzzing with energy and excitement.  It makes you really aware of how hard it is to twist and pull the pin, and how little time you have during an actual fire to get it extinguished.  The trainers really did an excellent job of keeping the pressure on to put those fires out!


Next, our staff got together this summer and we took a basic First Aid course, supported by the installation of two new fabulous first aid kits!  We paired up and treated “burns” and wrapped gauze around the “head wounds” of our partners.  Again, much fun was had and we learned great first aid skills in the process.  We only had one volunteer for the Heimlich maneuver, and sadly they didn’t wish for everyone to have a turn practicing!  


But seriously, one of the great things that actually came out of our first aid class was an overwhelming interest in having an onsite AED installed.  The trainer from Cintas discussed some pretty powerful stuff – your chances of surviving cardiac arrest are significantly better with the use of a bystander automated external defibrillator.  An American Heart Association paper from 2011 on resuscitation science that I just read (http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/124/20/2225.full) shows about a 3.5X times better survival rate (49.6% versus 14.3%), and that data is from a 2006-2009 study!  (For more accurate information than I can give you from my random afternoon internet search, feel free to contact Cintas or another provider of safety training.)

The best part about the AED we selected is that there are step-by-step pictures AND verbal instructions for what to do.  And of course it will not issue a shock unless the AED itself determines that there is a need.  So, that takes the guesswork out of whether or not to use the AED during a health emergency (and nobody can chase a coworker around the lab, either).


So, now that we’re sold – what’s next?!  We ordered the AED, sure, but there’s more to it than that.  We have to register the AED with Stat PADS, the Medical Direction / Physician Oversight service that Cintas works with to provide AEDs.  They work with the local Mountain View emergency medical services to post the location of our AED into their network, another requirement for having one onsite.

And last but not least, the whole company is getting CPR certified and trained on the AED!  Our November safety meeting will be dedicated to this training, and our employees hopefully get a great day out of it.  We will have five hours of training and catered lunch for our midday break! 

So by now you’re probably thinking to yourself “that’s great, Rebecca, but what does all this mean for me?!”  Well, it means that if you’re placing an order with Pickering Labs on November 17, you might consider emailing orders@pickeringlabs.com rather than calling.  Everyone here will be busy practicing CPR on each other and we won’t be available to take your call!  Phone calls will be returned before 9:00am PST and after 2:00pm on that day. 

If you have urgent business, let me know and I will give you Michael Pickering’s cell phone number! 

(An inside joke, as Michael doesn’t have a cell phone.)

Best regards!

Guaranteed Chemistry