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The SW-846 Compendium

EPA’s SW-846 Compendium consists of three main parts—chapters, methods and supporting documents. Most methods are intended as guidance, with the exception of method defined parameters (MDPs) that are mandated by the RCRA regulations. The chapters provide insight on how to successfully use the test methods. The supporting documents provide insight into the organization and history of the SW-846 document. In particular, the Table of Contents and Methods Status Table are used frequently.

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The SW-846 Compendium consists of over 200 analytical methods for sampling and analyzing waste and other matrices. The methods are divided into sections, or “series,” according to the type of method, analyte(s) and technique(s) used.

For more information on which method(s) to use, EPA developed a searchable table of all methods in the SW-846 Compendium. Select a series below to view its methods:

0010-0100: Air Sampling and Stack Emissions

Methods 0010-0100 cover sampling methods for emissions from stationary sources such as hazardous and municipal waste incinerators. Targeted parameters for these methods include hazardous organic compounds (e.g., volatiles, semivolatiles, dioxins and dibenzofurans), metals, hydrogen chloride, chlorine, and hexavalent chromium. SW-846 also includes three methods which were referred from the Clean Air Act program.

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1000 Series: Waste Characteristics and Leaching/Extraction Methods 

The 1000 series includes methodologies for determining the ignitability, corrosivity, and toxicity characteristics [See Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 261 Subpart C for more information about how to determine if a waste or material is hazardous or non-hazardous]. This series also includes several leaching and extraction procedures, including the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) and the Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP).

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3000 Series: Inorganic Sample Preparation

The 3000 series contains digestion and extraction procedures used for the preparation of samples for analysis of inorganic parameters. These techniques include acid digestion, alkaline digestion, and microwave assisted digestion.

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3500 Series: Organic Sample Extraction

The 3500 series contains extraction procedures used for the preparation of samples for analysis of organic parameters. These techniques include liquid-liquid extraction, solid-phase extraction, soxhlet extraction, and supercritical fluid extraction, among others.

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3600 Series: Organic Extract Cleanup

The 3600 series contains cleanup procedures for extracts from organic samples. These techniques include alumina cleanup, florisil cleanup, and silica gel cleanup, among others.

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4000 Series: Immunoassay Methods

The 4000 series introduces the immunoassay technique for the separation, detection and quantitation of both organic and inorganic analytes in diverse environmental and waste matrices. Immunoassay methods produce two types of quantitative results:

  1. range-finding or screening results indicative of compliance with an action level
  2. assay values

Commercially-available testing products present immunoassay protocols that are rapid, simple and portable and can be used effectively in both laboratory and field settings. Results are immediately available upon completion of the test, and can assist in the on-site management of personnel and equipment, as well as the data management activities of the laboratory.

For additional guidance regarding immunoassay analysis see:

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5000 Series: Sample Preparation and Introduction for Volatile Organic Compounds

The 5000 series includes several sample preparation methods (purge-and-trap, extraction, azeotropic distillation, vacuum distillation, dilution, headspace, etc.) that introduce volatile organic compounds into a detection device for various matrices (e.g., aqueous, soil/sediment, solid waste, organic solvents, air and oily waste).

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6000 Series: Inorganic Determinative Methods - Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) and Other Methods

The 6000 series contains analytical and guidance methods used to determine inorganic analytes by the following technologies: inductively coupled plasma (ICP)-optical emission (OES) and mass spectrometry (MS), x-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), capillary ion electrophoresis (CE) and isotope dilution mass spectrometry (IDMS).

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7000 Series: Inorganic Determinative Methods - Atomic Absorption (AA) and Other Methods

The 7000 series contains analytical and guidance methods used to determine the presence of inorganic analytes (including arsenic, antimony, chromium, mercury, white phosphorus and selenium) by the following technologies: graphite furnace and flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry (GFAA and FLAA), anodic stripping voltammetry (ASV), cold-vapor technique, atomic fluorescence spectrometry (AFS) and other techniques.

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8000 Series: Chromatographic Separation Methods

The 8000 series contains analytical and guidance methods used to determine organic compounds by technologies including but not limited to: gas chromatography (GC), mass spectrometry (MS), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and electron capture detection (ECD). Note that several of these methods are for screening only. SW-846 Chapter Four contains more information about the 8000 series methods.

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9000 Series: Miscellaneous Test Methods

The 9000 series contains analytical methods and guidance used to determine a variety of inorganic/organic parameters and physical properties/method-defined parameters in many different matrices. Described generally in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6, this miscellaneous compilation includes methods that use the following technologies: titration, colorimetry, conductivity, potentiometry and ion chromatography. Note that several of these methods are for screening only.

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Use the links below to access the chapters of guidance on SW-846 test methods.

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Supporting Documents

The SW-846 supporting documents include the Table of Contents, Disclaimer, Abstract, Methods Status Table, Preface, Acknowledgements, Policy Statement, and Appendix.

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