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Environmental Sampling and Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program

Homeland Security Research Program Sample Collection Procedures and Strategies

U.S. EPA’s Homeland Security Research Program conducts research develop sampling strategies and procedures of indoor/outdoor areas affected by wide-area chemical, biological (pathogen and/or biotoxin), or radiological contamination incidents. This research fulfills the need to develop a consistent process to facilitate sampling strategies and procedures that will provide the maximum amount of information regarding the extent of contamination while minimizing the required sampling resources. 

Two categories of documents are published that provide the information necessary for field response:

  1. Sample collection strategies provide a framework to assist decision-makers in developing and implementing a systematic and integrated methodology to sample collection, which will meet data use needs and site disposition objectives. The framework is designed to assist incident commanders, project managers, state and local authorities, contractors, and enforcement divisions during the cleanup of an urban environment after an intentional or unintentional contamination incident.
  2. Sample collection procedures are used during site characterization, remediation and release in support of EPA’s post-incident responsibilities. The procedures provide instructions regarding the collection of samples from indoor/outdoor environmental, building, and infrastructure materials that will be analyzed for contaminants using the methods provided in the Selected Analytical Methods for Environmental Remediation and Recovery (SAM). Use of the procedure by EPA, or EPA contracted sample collectors, will ensure that quality samples are collected to support laboratory analysis.

In addition to sampling strategies and procedures, EPA has published Sample Collection Information Documents (SCID) that provide general information that EPA staff and contractors can use when collecting samples as part of environmental clean-up activities following a contamination incident. The information can be used during site assessment, remediation and clearance activities. Information includes: sample containers, collection volume or weight, preservation, holding times, and packaging of samples for the sample types and analytes in the SAM document. The SCID will ensure that proper volumes are collected, preserved, and properly shipped to the laboratory for analysis per the SAM listed methods.  A query tool has been developed to provide quick access to information contained in the SCID.