statement of quality
Fiberquant Analytical Services
Corporation Profile and History
The parent company of Fiberquant, Inc., SEMTEC Laboratories, Inc. was
founded in 1977 by Edward F. Holdsworth. Then, as now, SEMTEC Laboratories utilizes
electron beam analytical technology to solve a wide variety of chemical and metallurgical
problems, including semiconductor materials characterization, failure analysis,
metallurgical examinations and micro-analysis. SEMTECs philosophy is to provide the
state-of-the-art in analytical techniques, a philosophy that has continued on in
In 1979, Larry S. Pierce, after consulting for several years with
SEMTEC in mineralogical matters, joined the firm after receiving his Ph.D. in
geochemistry/mineralogy. In approximately 1980, SEMTEC began receiving requests for
asbestos analysis. Since a mineralogist was already on staff, the ability to perform bulk
sample analysis was easily attained. The first analyses were performed using the scanning
electron microscope, but soon after, polarized light microscopy became the standard
method. At nearly the same time, the capability of asbestos filter sample analysis, using
phase contrast microscopy, was added.
In those days, the control and analysis of asbestos was in its
infancy. The OSHA permissible exposure limit for asbestos in air was 2 fibers/cc, and
people entered containment wearing 3M dust masks. As the concern over the effects of
asbestos grew in Arizona, so did the number of asbestos samples to be analyzed at SEMTEC.
With the passage of AHERA legislation, the number of asbestos analyses grew to the point
that it was decided to split SEMTEC into two parts: asbestos and non-asbestos. The
asbestos analysis arm of SEMTEC became Fiberquant, Inc. in 1988.
In those days, Fiberquant consisted of Larry S. Pierce, period.
Reports were fill-in-the-blank forms. But that would soon change. Fiberquant analyzed
samples during the heyday of the initial AHERA inspections, when every school was to be
inspected. In one month, we received more samples than we could analyze in 3 months. We
didnt catch up until the AHERA deadline. Fortunately, we had already hired and
trained a second PLM analyst, Stacy Doorn, who eventually worked in the TEM accreditation
program at Research Triangle Institute (RTI). During the AHERA rush, JoAnn Lutz joined us
as our office manager, and has continued in that capacity ever since. As the demand for
asbestos analysis grew, the number of Fiberquant personnel was increased to handle the
load. Dr. Pierce became the Lab Director and Quality Assurance Officer instead of the
chief analyst. Reports had to become generated by computer, using a database and word
processor. Eventually, a custom-designed laboratory information management system (LIMS)
was implemented that electronically stores all sample log, analysis, client, job, etc.
data collected in the lab.
The state-of-the-art analysis of asbestos in air began to change.
Whereas much PCM data had already been gathered, it was becoming clear that PCM results
did not always adequately characterize airborne exposures. Transmission electron
microscope (TEM) analysis was needed to distinguish airborne asbestos fibers from
interference fibers. TEM asbestos analysis requires a person trained in the operation of
the instrument, but also a person trained in the use of electron diffraction to identify
minerals, and a person trained in the use of an energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer
(EDS). In a stroke of luck or coincidence, Dr. Pierce had already been trained in exactly
those areas. He wrote his Ph.D. thesis on transmission electron microscopy of minerals,
and had used the EDS extensively during his first 8 years at SEMTEC, thereby instantly
making him one of few "natural" experts in TEM analysis in the country. Because
of his background and expertise in the TEM and mineralogy, he has been designated a
"Technical Expert" and on-site accreditation assessor for the National Voluntary
Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), and has been visiting labs to investigate their
personnel, training, procedures and records since 1989.
So it was natural that Fiberquant obtain a TEM. Our first TEM samples
were done in late 1988. After becoming established in asbestos, Fiberquant took over all
branches of environmental analysis from SEMTEC. Fiberquant obtained equipment to perform
electromagnetic field (EMF) surveys and humidity and temperature equipment. In 1992, we
purchased an atomic absorption spectrometer, which is used to analyze such metals as Pb,
Cr, Cd, Zn, Cu, Ni, As and Se in samples down to the parts per million (ppm) or sometimes
parts per billion (ppb) range. The instrument is applicable to a wide range of
environmental Pb and industrial hygiene analyses.
Fiberquant and SEMTEC share a 10,000 square foot facility just three
blocks south of Broadway Road in eastern Phoenix. Fiberquant is just 7 blocks from the
Maricopa freeway, and only 10 minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport,
providing ready access from anywhere in Arizona, the United States or the world.
In 2008, the SEMTEC interest in Fiberquant was purchased by Dr.
Pierce and Michael Breu.
Fiberquant Analytical Services
5025 S. 33rd St., Phoenix, AZ, 85040
Copyright 1996 Larry S. Pierce, All Rights Reserved