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EPA Region 9 Laboratory Field Services Summary

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About Region 9 Field Services

Field services include collecting environmental samples, conducting field audits of EPA contractors who are collecting samples for performing site investigations, conducting on-site field analyses at Superfund sites (supported by mobile laboratories), and providing technical assistance and training to other EPA Program Offices. Region 9's field staff also working on several field projects to assess environmental quality in the Pacific Southwest.

Field Biology

Region 9 Laboratory staff collects biological samples and microbiological samples in support of water monitoring studies, RCRA, Superfund, and Indian tribes.

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Region 9 Laboratory staff conduct bioassessments by assessing habitat, water quality, and biological integrity of indigenous communities in freshwater and marine surface waters. The Biology Team uses the following biosurvey techniques for bioassessments:

  • Physical habitat assessments
  • Fish community collections and assessments
  • Macroinvertebrate collections and assessments
  • Periphyton and phytoplankton collections

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Bioaccumulation Sampling

The Region 9 Laboratory can conduct fish or invertebrate sampling, identification, and sample preparation in the field. Tissue analyses are conducted by the chemical analysts in the Region 9 Laboratory.

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Biological Field Equipment

Region 9 field staff use the following items during assessment and sampling.


With the aid of an instrument called a Geoprobe, samplers are able to drill a hole approximately 2 inches in diameter and up to 30 feet deep. This enables the collection of core samples which can be cut up into segments for analysis in the laboratory. Data from these analyses can be used to determine if a surface pollutant has migrated down through the soil and possibly into the groundwater aquifer.


Region 9 Field staff have conducted on-site analyses of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) using a lightweight, field-portable gas chromotograph/ mass spectrometer called the HAPSITE. The HAPSITE measures VOCs in air, soil, and waters at very low levels, and results are produced rapidly in the field. The HAPSITE has been used to measure VOC levels at hazardous waste site assessments and to monitor worker exposure to soil gases while sampling.

  • 19-foot sampling boat
  • 17-foot electroshocking boat
  • 13-foot sampling boat
  • 11-foot inflatable sampling boat
  • Backpack electroshockers (battery and gas-powered)
  • Seines, hoop nets, fyke nets, gill nets
  • Invertebrate collection nets, D-frame, kick, surber, plankton
  • Sediment samplers - gravity core, Peterson/Ponar/Eckman dredges
  • Datasondes and water quality meters
  • In situ chlorophyll with field fluorometer
  • Tracer dyes with fluorometric detection

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Field Audits

The Region 9 Laboratory staff conducts audits of procedures used by contractors during the collection of samples for environmental analyses. These audits ensure that EPA approved methods are used for collection of the samples and that sample integrity is maintained through proper preservation, packaging and shipping techniques.

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Mobile Laboratory

 The Region 9 Lab operates mobile laboratories to support the Superfund program. This laboratory, known as the Field Analytical Support Program (FASP), is equipped with gas chromatographs (GC) and a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS). The FASP mobile laboratory is used primarily for analyzing volatile organic compounds in water and soil. The information generated is screening data, which provides analytical results to on-site project managers within 24 hours. This rapid turn-around-time is invaluable when one of the data quality objectives is to define the levels of pollution at various points at a given site. The Field Analytical Support Program is also capable of on-site analysis for toxic metals, such as mercury and lead, by means of X-ray Fluorescence (XFR) technology. Other field measurement capabilities include bioassay kits for petroleum by-products.

Learn more about the Region 9 Mobile Laboratory

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Current and Recent Field Projects

  • Regional Environmental Monitoring Assessment Program (REMAP)
  • Bioassessment of Water Quality in the Walker River Drainage, Nevada
  • Participation in the National Study of Chemical Residues in Lake Fish Tissues
  • RCRA Field Sampling at Sunrise Mountain Landfill in Las Vegas, NV
  • Using in situ probes to make continuous measurements of water quality parameters at drainage watersheds near Rio Tinto Mine (Mountain City, NV) and Lynx Hassayampa
  • Watershed (Prescott, AZ)

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