MVA Scientific Consultants

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Since its founding in 1990, MVA Scientific Consultants has become a national leader in standard and customized analytical testing and scientific consulting. The lab provides services to the environmental, pharmaceutical, nanotechnology, stack testing, industrial quality control, and litigation industries, among others. MVA provides a written report on each analysis to help guide its clients to understand and solve the challenges they face.

MVA uses a JEOL JSM-6500FE and a JEOL JSM-6490LV when a project requires scanning electron microscopy (SEM). They also have a JEOL SM-09010 Cross Section Polisher. Other instruments include several confocal microscopes, a scanning white light interference microscope, transmission electron microscopes, and a microspectrophotometer. 

Several high profile investigations have put MVA Scientific Consultants in the news and on the witness stand, while other projects that the microanalytical services company has undertaken have helped set new standards in health and environmental regulations. They provide answers to a wide range of questions about particulate analysis, material identification, contamination, patent infringement, and more.

Hindenberg “History Detectives”

Producers of the PBS series “History Detectives” turned to MVA to validate an artifact thought to be from the wreckage of the Hindenberg, the zeppelin made famous in a 1937 explosion while docking in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Using SEM coupled with energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS) and Fourier transform infrared micro-spectroscopy (micro-FTIR), MVA’s scientists found consistencies between samples from the casing of the intact speed indicator reportedly taken from the crash site and pre-WWII German plastics and paint. MVA also analyzed a discolored section of the item using confocal Raman microscopy (CRM) and determined that the item had been exposed to a blast of extreme heat, providing further clues to its authenticity. Read more about MVA and The Hindenburg.

Cold Case Solved

MVA’s investigative work on a cold case was featured on The Investigators Court TV and made headlines in metropolitan papers and on true crime websites. In 2005, 11 years after the abduction and murder of Emory University student Shannon Melendi, MVA’s expert scientists defended the evidence produced using SEM. They analyzed miniscule specks of metal on masking tape and a cloth bag containing the victim’s ring. The metals – titanium, tungsten, cobalt and molybdenum – were found on the same type of tape both in the defendant’s possession and at the Delta Airlines technical support center where he worked. The cloth bag also matched those used at Delta’s support center.

After four hours of testimony, the evidence helped to convict the defendant, Colvin (Butch) Hinton III, of the crime, even without a body, fingerprints, or crime scene. Only the cloth bag, tape and metal fragments were found in a phone booth behind a Burger King restaurant when investigators traced an anonymous phone call made two weeks after Shannon disappeared.

When Disaster Strikes

MVA was asked to participate in a study assessing the potential health hazards following the collapse of the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Scientists at MVA performed particle characterization on dust samples collected at the World Trade Center using a polarized light microscope (PLM) and a JEOL 6400 SEM. The samples were examined for particles that contained toxic metals such as lead and cadmium and asbestos fibers. Read more about MVA’s studies of dust particles from the World Trade Center site.

After hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, MVA performed automated particulate analysis on samples collected from affected areas. Their work focused on determining the potential for respiratory health problems due to molds and toxic particles after the floods.

Pharmaceutical Contamination

A pharmaceutical manufacturer found several rubber stoppers with black specks. Examination with a light microscope revealed that the black specks were intact insects. Images taken by SEM revealed that insects were inadvertently present in the rubber formulation or in the mold during the stoppers’ manufacturing and were not caused by surface contamination and through any fault of the pharmaceutical company. Read more about pharmaceutical contamination.

Focused on the Science of Small Things

Scientists at MVA developed a method for determining particle size distributions in stack emissions. The use of SEM allows for particle size analysis in EPA Method 5 samples collected from very clean stack samples. MVA uses manual and automated microscopy to characterize entire particle populations. Applications include contamination control, process monitoring, source identification, environmental monitoring and pollution studies.

MVA Scientific Consultants’ scientists are experts on particle sizing and identification, nanoparticles, dust analysis, asbestos, contaminant and source identification, materials characterization, and surface metrology.

For more information about the work of MVA Scientific Consultants, please visit

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