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Environmental Sampling and Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program

Homeland Security Research Program Analytical Methods and Protocols

An intentional, accidental or natural hazard incident involving a chemical, biological and/or radiological (CBR) can contaminate and affect our water infrastructure and indoor/outdoor facilities. To protect the environment and human health from such an incident, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the responsibility to lead and oversee cleanup efforts.  EPA’s response to these types of incidents consist of determining the type and severity of contamination, assessing the affected area and infrastructure facilities and systems for contamination. Planning and coordinating efforts to inactivate and/or remove the hazardous agent will be needed following initial characterization assessment. Examples of environmental samples that might be collected and tested/analyzed to detect the presence or absence of the hazard causing agent during each phase of the response include air/aerosols (filters/cartridges), water, soil, vegetation, building materials, debris/waste materials, and surface contamination using wipes, swipes or sponge sticks. The analytical methods used to test these samples play a crucial role in determining whether the objectives and goals for each phase of the response to a hazard incident will be achieved.

EPA identified several areas to enhance the resiliency of the nation following contamination incidents. The need to improve the nation’s laboratory capacity and capability to analyze environmental samples following such incidents (i.e., CBR contamination) was one of the most important areas identified.  To fulfill this need, EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program (HSRP) has been actively engaged in developing effective and accurate sample analysis methods for CBR hazardous contaminants. The methods are compiled into a single-source document, the Selected Analytical Methods for Environmental Remediation and Recovery (SAM) document, which is a compendium resource that can be used after a contamination incident. The document is developed by a team of methods experts from within EPA, as well as other federal, state and local agencies; and public utilities. Analytes are included based on selection criteria that address the needs and priorities of EPA. The sample types listed are specific to each technical section and have been determined by technical work groups to be a concern during site remediation. Work groups identify a single method or method group per analyte/sample type to ensure a consistent analytical approach across multiple laboratories when analyzing environmental samples.  

To provide quick access to methods provided in SAM, a query tool has been developed and a listing of ESAM Collaborative Analytical Methods and Protocols developed by HSRP and partnering laboratories and agencies, which are a subset of the methods included in EPA's SAM.