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Environmental Sampling and Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program

General Quality Control (QC) Guidelines for SAM Methods

The information contained in SAM represents the latest step in an ongoing effort by EPA's NHSRC to provide selected analytical methods for use by those laboratories tasked with performing confirmatory analyses of environmental samples and outdoor building material samples in support of EPA remediation and recovery efforts following a homeland security-related contamination incident. The information is intended for use by EPA and EPA-contracted and-subcontracted laboratories; it also can be used by other agencies and laboratory networks, such as the Integrated Consortium of Laboratory Networks (ICLN).

At this time, only some of the methods selected have been validated for the analyte and sample type. However, the methods are considered to contain the most appropriate currently available techniques based on expert judgment. Method usability tiers are assigned to the chemistry, pathogen and biotoxin methods to provide an indication of the applicability of the methods (i.e., the extent to which the methods have been tested and applied for analysis of the specific analyte and sample type for which they have been selected).  These usability tiers are provided in:

Unless a published method states specific applicability to the analyte/sample type for which it has been selected, it should be assumed that method evaluation is needed, and adjustments to the procedures described in the method may be required to accurately account for variations in analyte/sample type characteristics, environmental samples, analytical interferences, and data quality objectives (DQOs). EPA is continuing to develop and evaluate analytical techniques based on the methods and protocols that are listed in SAM and based on current EPA policies for validating analytical methods. Once validation is complete, data regarding the resulting method performance and DQOs will be available.

Many of the methods listed in SAM include quality control (QC) requirements for collecting and analyzing samples. EPA will assess these QC requirements to ensure analytical data quality supports decisions concerning site remediation and release. These QC requirements may be adjusted as necessary to maximize data and decision quality. Specific QC considerations and recommendations for analysis of samples for chemical, radiochemical, pathogen and biotoxin analytes are provided in each corresponding section of SAM. EPA's Environmental Response Laboratory Network (ERLN), which is tasked with providing laboratory support following intentional or unintentional contamination incidents, also has established data reporting procedures. Requirements for receiving, tracking, storing, preparing, analyzing and reporting data are specified in the U.S. EPA (2011) Environmental Response Laboratory Network Laboratory Requirements Document; project-specific requirements also are included in individual Analytical Service Requests (ASRs).

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