Upping the test standards

Dr. Nityananda Upadhyay, Managing Director
Dr. Nityananda Upadhyay, Managing Director

Thanks to modernisation and advancement in science, thousands of harmful chemicals and bacteria can be detected in the water. This can be tested even at extremely small concentrations. PSN Labs, a Dubai-based quality assurance lab, has been the pioneer of many standards. Established in 2011 by Dr. Nityananda Upadhyay who is also the Managing Director, the lab today provides world-class services that have earned it many accolades. Excerpts from an interview:


Rhonita Patnaik

Published: Tue 28 Sep 2021, 10:00 AM

Why is the water body test vital and what are the few breakthroughs that you are doing here?

Water is categorised into many parameters — drinking, irrigation, wastewater, marine water as well as swimming water and at dental labs. At PSN Lab, we majorly test drinking water for residual pesticide whether it is harmful to the ecosystem or not. But that’s not it. The UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, which aims to ensure sustainable access to water during both normal and emergency conditions in line with local regulations, standards of the World Health Organisation, and the UAE’s vision to achieve prosperity and sustainability.

There are many environmental parameters that we are working on. Drinking water may contain dissolved oxygen, silicate, phosphates and trace metals such as mercury, which are very dangerous for consumption. These are chemical testings. Then coming to microbiological testings, we test for bacteria in water such as E.coli, Coliform, Legionella — these can create issues in the human intestine if not treated. Especially in the swimming pool, many a time water goes into our system through our mouth. Though the effects are not seen immediately, this water is a slow poison.

The water treatment plants in Dubai treat such water but microbes are never killed in these treatments. The Dubai Municipality adheres to strict regulations with regards to swimming pools in the emirate – hotels, apartments, schools, etc. So it’s mandatory to do testing on such waters every three months to understand the content of the swimming pool water. Similar is the case with water at your dentist’s. Microbes, especially Legionella, can create huge problems if the water is not treated properly.

Coming to wastewater treatment at desalination plants, at PSNL, we check the water that goes into the sea so that the ecosystem is not disturbed with harmful chemicals. This is what we do at the laboratory.

You have been awarded the best lab by Dubai Municipality. What are the parameters you were tested on?

The authorities have audited our lab on various parameters — the lab facilities, the services provided, and the quality of work that we have done. We have been awarded the letter of operation by the head of the drinking water control unit at Dubai Municipality in 2019 to do testing for them on tap water and two taps in various locations within Dubai.

You have been supporting the government in a lot of initiatives. What is the kind of support that you have received from the government?

The Dubai Municipality has a central lab but they have a lot on their plate. Every quarter, we are getting marine water and sediments for chemical and microbiological analysis from their environmental department.

To begin with, initially, we were asked by the Dubai Municipality to do testing on tap water for the school for drinking purposes. This strengthened our position as a lab in Dubai and we are recognised as one of the best labs today. We gained many clients through this initiative and have become the preferred third-party lab for many organisations. We also get a lot of work from the Dubai Municipality for their lab analyses. We are their outsourcing partner.

You are the first start-up lab in Dubai Science Park. Can you talk about this?

Dubai Science Park had no labs initially. There were a few companies whose marketing teams were based here. In 2011, we initiated the building of this lab and in 2012 we established PSN Laboratories, the first lab in Dubai Science Park. Now there are few other labs here but we offer far more services than what they have such as cosmetics, herbal products, and food.

We can do a lot more testing here but we need a bigger space. So we are confined to the environmental parameter. We are happy to say that we will soon be opening a bigger lab in the mainland to analyse food parameters.

Apart from water, what other testing is done in the lab?

We do sediment testings. It is very vital in a region like the UAE because of environmental and food security agenda. We again test them for chemical and microbiological parameters. If the soil is harmful, food cannot grow. Right now, we are doing a few tests in Al Ain for plant tissue and agricultural water in various farms. Fertiliser plays a very important role in soil. What we do is test the accurate content of each nutrient such as ammonia, nitrogen, phosphate. It is our role to provide the right information. Apart from the above, we are the first lab to analyse ecological samples like phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthic samples, mangrove plantation and their studies. We are involved with Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) directly or indirectly for marine water analysis and ecosystem studies. Also, we act as a consultant in establishing tissue culture labs and new testing labs as per ISO standard and environmental assessment works.

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