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Frequent Questions about the SW-846 Compendium and Related Documents

EPA developed frequent questions about the SW-846 Test Methods Compendium and associated documents.

On this page:

Where can I find answers to technical questions about SW-846?

The SW-846 Database contains answers to many technical questions compiled from method users. If you have a question that is not answered in the SW-846 database, you can submit a question through the ‘contact us’ page or through the ServiceNow Portal.

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Which version of a method should I use?

It is usually best to use the most up-to-date version of a method due to rapidly changing technology. Although the validated methods are not officially incorporated into SW-846, they are recommended for use whenever possible because they represent the most recent method advancements. However, because certain state regulations may restrict which versions of methods may be used, check with your state or EPA Regional office to confirm which version of a method to use.

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Where can I find methods out for comment?

You can sign up for the SW-846 mailing list to receive email notifications when new methods or SW-846 Updates are released to the public for comment.

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How can I find out when SW-846 updates are available?

To find out when methods go out for comment or when Updates are finalized and incorporated into SW-846, please sign up to be added to our mailing list.

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What is the Methods Innovation Rule (MIR) and how does it affect SW-846?

The MIR, finalized in 2005, allows for flexibility when using SW-846 methods. For more information, see the Methods Innovation Rule page.

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Where can I find an old method?

Some older versions of SW-846 methods can be found by searching the EPA Archive for the desired version of the method.

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Why is the method I’m looking for not in SW-846?

Once a method has been updated, previous versions are moved to the EPA Archive.

If the method you’re looking for has a number with the format XXX or XXX.X (e.g., Method 624 or Method 200.8), it is a water method put out by the EPA Office of Water either for the Clean Water Act (CWA) or for the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). These methods can be found on the Clean Water Act Analytical Methods website or the Safe Drinking Water Act Analytical Methods website.

If you are looking for a 1600 series method (method 1600-1682), it is a Clean Water Act method and is not part of SW-846.

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What do the letters after the method number means?

The letters following a method number (i.e., 3060A) refer to the number of revisions a method has undergone. The letter does not indicate a separate method. In the example above, Method 3060 and Method 3060A are the same method, but Method 3060A is an updated/revised version.

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How can I find out the differences between a new version of a method and the previous version (e.g., 8000B and 8000C)?

  • Beginning with the Update V methods, the newer version of the method will summarize the technical changes to the method in Appendix A, found at the end of the method.

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Where can I buy the SW-846 publication?

All SW-846 methods and documents are available free of charge online. If you desire a paper copy or a collection of methods, SW-846 is available for purchase from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS)

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How should I reference an SW-846 method?

There are two ways to reference SW‐846 methods. You can reference the entire methods compendium as follows: Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods, EPA publication SW‐846, Third Edition, Final Updates I (1993), II (1995), IIA (1994), IIB (1995), III (1997), IIIA (1999), IIIB (2005), IV (2008), and V (2015).

If you want a separate reference for each method, use this format: Method xxxxx, Revision x, Month Year, Final Update x to the Third Edition of the Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods, EPA publication SW‐846.

For example, Method 3060A would be: Method 3060A, Revision 1, December 1996, Final Update III to the Third Edition of the Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods, EPA publication SW‐846. You can use the Methods Status Table to find the dates and related Update version of specific methods.

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