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Environmental Sampling and Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program

SAM Scope and Application

The premise and purpose of SAM is to identify the analytical methods that will be used in cases when multiple laboratories are called on to analyze environmental samples following a homeland security-related intentional or accidental contamination incident. The SAM methods are intended to support EPA's Environmental Response Laboratory Network (ERLN) and Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA), and also can be used as a tool to assist state and local laboratories in planning for and analyzing environmental samples and outdoor building material samples containing radiochemical contamination following such incidents. The methods presented SAM should be used to:

  • Determine the extent of site contamination (assumes early responders have identified contaminants prior to EPA's remediation effort);
  • Evaluate the efficacy of remediation efforts during site cleanup; and
  • Confirm effectiveness of decontamination in support of site clearance decisions.

The methods provided are limited to those that would be used to determine, to the extent possible within analytical limitations, the presence of chemical, radiochemical, pathogen and biotoxin analytes of concern and their concentrations and viability, when applicable. The majority of methods include detailed laboratory procedures for confirming the identification of analytes and determining their concentrations in samples and, therefore, are not designed to be used for rapid or immediate response or for conducting an initial evaluation (triage or screening) of suspected material to determine if it poses an immediate danger. SAM also is not intended to provide information regarding sample collection activities or equipment. Instead, NHSRC has developed companion documents that are intended to provide information regarding sample collection, laboratory rapid screening/preliminary identification equipment, and sample disposal. Currently available companion documents are provided in SAM Companion Documents, Sample Collection Procedures and Strategies, and Sample Collection Information Documents.

SAM provides selected methods for specific analyte/sample type combinations for chemicals, radiochemicals, pathogens and biotoxins; This website allows users to search for a particular analyte and/or method. Please see SAM Methods Query.

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