Analytical Nicholls-Colton


Nicholls Colton Analytical houses a state-of-the-art laboratory providing an independent and comprehensive testing service to the construction industry. With UKAS and MCERTS accreditation for a broad range of tests, our laboratory delivers both environmental and geotechnical testing to an exceptional standard.

Nicholls Colton Analytical operates in the following areas:

  • Analytical Waste acceptance Criterea
  • Analytical Laboratory
  • Contaminated Land Testing
  • Tar Analysis
  • Topsoil Analysis
  • On Site Analysis
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Geotechnical Testing
  • Waste Disposal
  • Materials Testing


 Analytical Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC)

It is the responsibility of the primary waste producer to characterise their waste and it is quite likely that it will require testing. With the vast amount of experience Nicholls Colton has of testing, every client can be rest assured that Nicholls Colton will undertake all waste testing efficiently and cost effectively.

Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) testing is predominately aimed at simulating the amount of hazardous substances that would leach from the waste though the passage of rainwater.

Nicholls Colton test for the following components:

• Arsenic
• Barium
• Cadmium
• Chromium (total)
• Copper
• Mercury
• Molybdenum
• Nickel
• Lead
• Antimony
• Selenium
• Zinc
• Chloride
• Fluoride
• Sulphate (as SO4)
• Phenol Index
• Dissolved Organic Carbon (at own pH)


Tar Analysis

Tar (or coal tar) is classified as a cancer causing substance, due to harmful components within its make-up. Because of the dangerous nature of tar, a hazard is created whenever road materials are dug up. It is therefore essential that tar testing on road materials is carried out properly and by professionals of the trade.

Nicholls Colton Analytical offer a full in-house tar testing service that follows the testing guidelines outlined in the CSS (County Surveyors’ Society) guidance note. The CSS guidance note recommends that tests are carried out prior to the design of the works so that informed decisions can be made regarding management of the hazards.

Nicholls Colton Analytical has developed specific methods designed for customers requiring road materials testing. We are also quite unique in being able to offer a complete in-house service including:

• Pavement coring
• Core logging
• Identification of tar by the PAK indicator test
• A full tar testing suite


Topsoil Analysis

Due to an increased demand from customers NCA has recently started to carry out topsoil testing to
BS 3882:2007.

BS 3882:2007 replaces the previously issued 1994 document which is now withdrawn. It is important for customers to check that testing is being carried out in accordance with the “new standard” as we found that the old standard was still being used; there are some significant method changes in the 2007 edition.

NCA are one of the few laboratories with expertise in physical/construction testing and environmental chemical testing and so are well placed to offer this service.

BS 3882 classifies topsoil into 2 different types: multi-purpose and specific purpose with specific purpose further split into acidic, low fertility and calcareous grades.

Testing is carried out to obtain the clay, silt, sand and stone contents. All grades need some clay, at least 5% but not too much, 30 to 85% sand and not too many coarse particles.

Soil organic matter is assessed and for all grades there should be some organic matter but again not too much, pH should be relatively neutral for the multipurpose grade.

Plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium levels have ranges to be checked. All grades except for the low fertility grade have minimum levels.

Phytotoxic (toxic to plants) contaminants need to be below specific levels, Zinc, Copper and Nickel are listed in BS 3882.

The topsoil also should be virtually free from visible contaminants such as, plastic, glass and metal and contain no hazardous sharps. In addition to the above there are a few other items to be checked and more importantly chemical contaminants that are hazardous to human health and the environment.

Ideally a geo-environmental consultant, such as NCG, should be contacted to give guidance of which contaminants are appropriate but a list may be compiled based on the history of the source and its intended use.

For further details and costs please contact James Gane or Luigi Sorrentino on 0116 253 6333, or or contact us online.


Contaminated Land Analysis

Nicholls Colton Analytical provides analysis of soil and water to enable assessment of potentially contaminated land to be carried out.

An industrial past has meant that at many sites, the land is affected by contamination.

Heavy metals, oils, tars and organic compounds were deposited in and on the land and these possibly pose risks to human health and the environment in general.

With our purpose built, state of the art laboratory, we can analyse for compounds such as these and find solutions to dissolve any risk.


On Site Analysis

To comply with specification requirements and avoid costly remedial works, control and testing of earthworks and other materials within a civil engineering project is essential. Nicholls Colton’s expertise in earthworks and other construction testing spans over 40 years!

We carry out a range of sampling and testing activities in liaison with the client for Earthworks, Highways and other construction projects and investigations from the Leicester Laboratory (UKAS).

Construction Site Testing

• Sampling Fresh Concrete
• Making Concrete Cubes
• Concrete Slump Testing
• Sampling of Aggregates
• In-situ California Bearing Ratio (CBR)
• Plate Bearing Testing for Equivalent CBR, Ultimate Bearing Capacity, Modulus of Subgrade Reaction or Settlement

NCA activities include:

Earthworks Testing:

• Sampling of Earthworks (UKAS)
• MCHW Specification for Highway Works Appendix 6/1 Compliance Testing

Compaction Assessment (In-situ Density Testing) including:

• Nuclear Density Gauge Method
• Sand Replacement Density
• Corecutter Density
• In-situ CBR and Plate Bearing
• Hand Shear Vane

A comprehensive laboratory service is also available to compliment the above activities.


Analytical Laboratory

When required to comply with the statutory material requirements of the project you need a professional testing service. Nicholls Colton operate a UKAS accredited testing laboratory, UKAS No 0320. Our professional team are dedicated to operating to the highest standard, to meet the requirements of our customers in the construction sector

We have been testing concrete, mortar, soil, asphalt and aggregates for over 40 years, offering a fast turnaround of sampling, testing and reporting of results obtained.

Where clients sample materials “in house”, the facility is also responsive to individual requirements and reporting.

Our testing services are:

• Concrete Testing
• Mortar Analysis
• Soil Testing
• Asphalt – Physical Properties and Chemical Analysis
• Aggregate Testing – Physical Properties and Chemical Analysis



Cairney Test (Combustion Susceptibility Test)

Nicholls Colton Analytical houses a state-of-the-art laboratory providing an independent and comprehensive testing service to the construction industry, with UKAS and MCERTS accreditation for a broad range of tests.

During the 50th Anniversary of the Group, the Analytical Division is continually developing the range of tests offered, the latest addition being the Combustion Susceptibility Test.

Combustion Susceptibility Test

The Combustion Susceptibility (or Cairney) Test was designed to measure the combustion potential of soils in a practical manner, to mirror the actualities of site conditions. The test procedure focuses on two critical factors of combustion; the build up of retained heat and the presence of an adequate supply of oxygen. The methodology identifies the precise temperature at which initial ignition commences representing the oxidation process prior to actual combustion. At a somewhat higher temperature, the strength of any actual combustion can be compared to simultaneously tested reference material.

Potential uses

The increase in redevelopment of potentially contaminated brownfield sites has lead to a surge of interest in this test, which will help identify any self-sustaining subterranean combustion of the type posing the greatest risk to future site development.