Protecting the Federal Brownfields Program in Uncertain Times


The following blog post is based on a Webinar entitled Protecting the Federal Brownfields Program in Uncertain Times, brought to you by the Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) and the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals (NALGEP). The webinar was sponsored by Brownfield Listings, the premier online marketplace and project platform to list real estate to be remediated, redeveloped, revitalized, or reimagined.

There has always been strong bipartisan support for brownfields law and funding. The EPA program produces economic results- leverages 8,000 jobs and $1.5 billion dollars in redevelopment funding per year, and it increases local tax revenues up to $97 million annually. The program produces environmental results- has assessed 26,405 properties, cleaned up 1,505 properties, and made ready for reuse 5,693 properties, to date. Every EPA dollar leverages $18 in revitalization investment.

Under the current Administration’s regulatory environment, brownfields programs face a growing threat. However, there is growing bipartisan support for reauthorization. The President is focused on jobs, tax reform, economic development, and infrastructure. Infrastructure and tax reform legislation in particular present new opportunities for brownfields despite the hostile climate precipitated by the current administration. Pruitt has also expressed support for brownfields.  However, under the President’s current budget, the following programs have been slated for elimination: the HUD CDBG (Community Development Block Grant Program), the EDA (Economic Development Administration), funding for regional economic commissions (e.g., Appalachia Regional Commission), the USDA Rural Water and Sewer Infrastructure program, and EPA Brownfields funds are cut by 13%.

Congress holds the purse strings so the “skinny” budget proposed by the President in March, will come under scrutiny when Appropriations Subcommittees accept funding requests from Members of Congress in April. The President is to propose a detailed budget in early May, Appropriations Subcommittees will consider legislation in May, June, and July, and final legislation will come in the fall.

EPA Brownfields funding supports planning, assessments, cleanup, job training, technical assistance, and state programs. The administration is looking to cut EPA Brownfields funding by 13%, and brownfield grants would be cut from $80 million to $75 million. Grants to the states would be cut by 30% from $47.5 million to $33.4 million. The President’s budget eliminates HUD CDBG funding, and these block grants are flexible funds that have supported the redevelopment of thousands of brownfields across the country. The program has been funded at around $3 billion in recent years, but the Trump administration has proposed eliminating the program because it “is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.” Eliminated CDBG funds are instead earmarked to provide funding to build the southern border wall.

EDA Public Works and Infrastructure funding has supported hundreds of brownfield projects and the EDA Manufacturing Communities Partnership has linked brownfields cleanup with the revitalization of manufacturing. The EDA has supported many small and rural communities and has been funded at $250 million in recent years. The President has proposed the elimination of the EDA. The President’s budget also eliminates funding for regional economic development commissions that support local regional economic development, which includes brownfields. This includes the elimination of the Appalachia Regional Commission, the Delta Regional Authority, the Denali Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission. The USDA provides economic development and infrastructure funding to support small and rural communities and USDA funds have supported hundreds of brownfield redevelopment projects in small rural communities. The President’s budget eliminates USDA grants and loans for water and sewer infrastructure on brownfields.

The CCLR/NALGEP recommended funding levels include keeping EPA Brownfields at $250 million (authorized level), keeping the HUD CDBG funded to at least $3.3 billion (current level), keeping the EDA funded to at least $250 million (current level), and keeping the USDA Rural Development programs funded to at least $2.8 billion (current level).  The CCLR/NALGEP urges you to send letters to Members of Congress to request the Appropriations Subcommittees to include funding levels for brownfields and to follow up with congressional offices to make sure they support your requests. Letters are provided from the CCLR/NALGEP for this purpose.

Contact McAlister GeoScience and the CCLR/NALGEP for more information and if you are interested in getting involved with the development, redevelopment, or some other form of role with Brownfields, please contact us to get started.

State Funding for Site Cleanup

For this blog, we discuss topics delivered at The Remediation Workshop, held at the Holiday Inn Long Beach Airport Hotel on February 7, 2017. The topics discussed included 1) State Funding for Site Cleanup, 2) Introducing Klozur® KP-an extended release ISCO persulfate reagent, 3) Incorporating Molecular Biological Tools (MBTs) into Site Management, and 4) High Resolution Site Characterization (HRSC) Techniques: High Resolution Hydrogeological Characterization.

Yue Rong of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board gave the presentation on State Funding for Site Cleanup, and it is summarized as follows. The Cal-EPA is made of four principle entities: The State Water Resources Control, Air Resources Control Board, Department of Pesticides Regulations, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). Available funds for impacted sites include cost recovery directly from the responsible party, cleanup and abatement accounts (enforcement), Underground Storage Tank (UST) Cleanup Fund (sub funds are EAR, Orphan fund), Federal funds (superfund, brownfield fund), or other specific funding. For cost recovery directly from the responsible party, typically the party pays regulatory agency staff time of around $150/hr, and there is a contract between the responsible party and the agency. For cleanup and abatement accounts, the fund originates from enforcement penalties and fines, can only be used by agencies, and is usually applied to the amount of $1 to $1.5 million per application. The Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund is generated from a gasoline tax and is administrated by the State Board. The responsible party spends for cleanup then makes a claim for reimbursement. The order and fund management are overseen by separate agencies, the State Board and Regional Board respectively. Total claims for the fund are approximately $200 to $300 millions per year statewide. The fund is dispersed to tank owners only, with a maximum of $1 million per site, and covers soil and groundwater cleanup (does not cover tank removal). Operation of the fund usually starts with a responsible party (RP) ordered by the Regional Board to cleanup up a site. The RP submits a work plan to conduct cleanup, the Regional Board approves the work plan, the RP implements the work plan, then the RP makes a claim for reimbursement. The RP claims the cost to the State Board, the State Board reviews the claim based on reasonable and necessary criteria, and if the RP disagrees with the reimbursement, it appeals to the State Board’s management. The Emergency, Abandoned, and Recalcitrant (EAR) Fund is a sub fund of the UST Cleanup Fund. It is used by agencies who nominate a specific number of eligible sites per year. The State contacts a consultant to do the work, and the State recovers the expense by a lien on the site. The Orphan Site Cleanup Fund (OSCF) is a grant program within the Division of Financial Assistance. The OSCF provides financial assistance to eligible applicants for the cleanup of sites contaminated by a LUST where there is not a financially responsible party, and the applicant is not an eligible claimant to the UST Cleanup Fund. The current property owner or potential owner applies, and must bear the cost first and get reimbursement later. Other funds include Federal funds such as Superfund (EPA declared sites), Brownfield fund (abandoned sites), and LUFT trust funds. For more information on funding available for cleanup of your site, contact McAlister GeoScience.

The next presentation at the conference was entitled Introducing Klozur® KP- an extended release ISCO persulfate reagent.  Klozur® KP is an extended release in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) reagent based upon an environmental grade potassium persulfate. The low solubility and extended release of Klozur KP can be utilized for a number of applications not traditionally thought of for chemical oxidation including permeable reactive barriers (PRBs), treatment of lower permeable soils, and contaminated groundwater plumes. Key benefits include: Powerful mutli-radical attack, can be applied as a solid or as part of a slurry mixture, well suited toward applications such as permeable reactive barriers, and extended lifetime in the subsurface. Example contaminants where Klozur® KP is effective include chlorinated ethenes, ethanes and methanes, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, MTBE, vinyl chloride, BTEX, and 1,4-dioxane. Other potential applications of Klozur® KP include physical emplacement or construction, soil blending, hydraulic slurry injection, and pneumatic solid phase injection. For all of you that forget what in situ chemical oxidation is, in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) is the introduction of an oxidant into the subsurface for the purpose of oxidizing contaminants in soil and groundwater. ISCO is ideal for the elimination of contaminant concentrations in source zones and hot spots.

Incorporating Molecular Biological Tools (MBTs) into Site management was presented Microbial Insights. Founded in 1992 by Dr. David C White, the company specializes in molecular biological tools (MBTs). Why do we need MBTs? Contaminant concentrations and geochemistry don’t always provide the complete picture and plate counts do not accurately reflect the in situ microbial community (<1% of bacteria can be cultured in the (lab).

Case study: Chlorinated Solvent Site. DNA methods can quantify key microbes and functional genes, and help figure out what the concentration of contaminant degraders are by using qPCR and QuantArray.  The following questions can be answered: Is complete reductive dechlorination likely? Is aerobic cometablism occurring? Should an electron donor by added? Is bioaugmentation needed? Will an electron donor injection be effective? Knowing this information saves time and thus money.

For the sake of brevity, for more information on these and other topics discussed in the Remediation Workshop, contact McAlister GeoScience.

Vapor Intrusion Assessments: Improving Data Quality Using Today’s Best Practices for Sample Collection

This blogpost is a summary based on a webinar hosted by TestAmerica, presented by Taryn McKnight on January 24, 2017 entitled, Vapor Intrusion Assessments Part One: Improving Data Quality Using Today’s Best Practices for Sample Collection.

Vapor Intrusion is the term given to the migration of hazardous materials (especially Volatile Organic Compounds, VOCs) from the subsurface into overlying buildings. Other possible vapor intrusion materials may include certain semi-volatile organic compounds and inorganic chemicals, such as elemental mercury, naturally occurring radon and hydrogen sulfide. Sources from the subsurface may include contaminated groundwater or impacted soils. Varying hazards may occur from the vapor intrusion of differing chemicals such as a safety hazard (potentially related to flammable vapors intruding a building or enclosed area) or a health hazard both acute (headaches, nausea, etc) and chronic (carcinogenic, etc).

Vapor intrusion science has progressed from the Johnson and Ettinger model in 1991 to the EPA establishing the OSWER Technical Guide for Assessing and Mitigating the Vapor Intrusion Pathway from Subsurface Vapor Sources to Indoor Air in 2015.

Variability (factors) in vapor intrusion studies include but are not limited to, barometric pressure, surface cover, preferential pathways, soil moisture & permeability, building depressurization, biodegradation, background air, etc…

Pros of indoor air sampling include, actual indoor air concentration, no modeling, no attenuation factors, relatively quick with no drilling or heavy equipment, and less spatial variability than soil gas. Cons associated with indoor air sampling include, planning time with the home/property-owner to perform sampling events, the removal of potential interior or lifestyle sources and contribution from unknown indoor sources and ambient air. The collection of outdoor air in conjunction with indoor air is a way to check the contribution of ambient air to the indoor air sample. It is important to conduct a building survey prior to the collection of an indoor sample. The building should include the deduction of potential background contamination sources such as common household products, building materials, etc… Sub-slab sampling can help resolve the issue of background contamination by bypassing the contamination potential from the room and sampling closest to the source of vapor intrusion.

Pros of soil gas sampling include, near source data and may provide an estimate of source vapor concentration. Additionally, it can be performed without entering the structure as to eliminate the need for coordination with the buildings occupants. Cons of soil gas sampling include, significant lateral and vertical variability and may not be representative of vapor concentrations under the buildings. The EPA suggests several rounds of sampling are generally recommended. Soil gas sampling protocols include, purging the tube using a syringe, bag or canister, dialing in a flow rate for purging/ collecting using a flow controller, measure the vacuum being applied on the subsurface using a vacuum gauge, rotometer or syringe, measure for biodegradation at sites containing petroleum by testing for CH4, O2, and CO2 and application of a tracer gas such as helium, Freon or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) using a shroud and a field detector.

A leak check using a tracer gas is to be performed to ensure no leaks from ambient air into the sample collection system is found. The shroud is placed over the sample probe with a hydrated bentonite seal where an inert tracer gas is added to the shrouded environment. A test sample is then drawn from the sampling probe and if detection of the inert gas is observed, then ambient air is capable of reaching the subsurface and contamination of the sample collected is likely. Refer to the figure below to view a basic “in field” leak test.

A second leak test referred to as the shut-in test is to be performed on the sample collection system. This test is to ensure there is an air tight seal between the sample probe/tube and sample collection system such as a Summa canister. The figure below highlights the steps to perform an air tight seal.

Finally, canisters have no preservation required and can be shipped via air with few caveats. The hold time on canisters is specified in TO-15 as 30 days so it is generally dependent on the consultant’s necessary turn-around-time. The quality of data collected is dependent on the entire process of data collection from beginning to end. A careful process is necessary for thorough, accurate and precise data.


The Analysis of Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) Including PFOS and PFOA

Karla Buechler gave a webinar presentation in association with TestAmerica on The Analysis of Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substance (PFAS) Including PFOS and PFOA. Her presentation is summarized in this blogpost.

Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (hereinafter referred to as PFASs) are a class of synthetic compounds containing chemicals formed from carbon chains attached to fluorine atoms. As defined, a PFAS must contain at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom. The Carbon-Fluorine bond is one of the strongest bonds in nature due to the short distance between the atoms. PFOS and PFOAs are part of the PFAS subgroup of PFCs denoting they are fully fluorinated. This means all carbons in the backbone have their hydrogens replaced by fluorine. Due to the strength of the Carbon-Fluorine bond, these chemicals are extremely resistant to degradation in the environment. Additionally, these chemicals have a charged functional group attached to one of the carbons at the end of the carbon backbone. This charged functional group is responsible for the molecules “sticky” property, allowing us to attach these molecules to different things for varying uses.

PFASs are released to the environment from manufacturing facilities as well as industries that incorporated PFASs into industrial and consumer products. Production, use and disposal of AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foams) such as ones used in fire-fighting foams, are also responsible for the introduction of PFASs to the environment. Secondary sources include secondary facilities that use PFCs in their consumer products that are tossed in the trash and end up in landfills, waste water treatment plants and evaporation into air as air emissions. Environmental exposure pathways can be found in the image below:

Exposure to PFASs can be from occupational exposure due to working with the chemicals or non-occupational (the category most people fall under) through air and food (predominantly fish consumption). Human and wildlife exposure can continue even with the chemicals no longer in use due to their resistance to degradation. PFOS and PFOA (fully fluorinated PFASs) have a half-life in humans ranging from 2 to 9 years (depending on the study). PFOA is associated with liver, pancreatic, testicular and mammary gland tumors in laboratory animals. PFOS is associated with liver and thyroid cancer in rats.

Technology advancements from the 1980s/1990s to the 2000s allowed us to detect levels from parts per million/billion to parts per trillion/quadrillion. We are now able to discover these chemicals in most water bodies in the world. The EPA has utilized these techniques from Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry with two mass analyzers in one instrument (LCMSMS) to develop EPA Method 537 and Method 537 Version 1.1. Methods of manufactures of the chemicals that were adopted by the environmental industry include SW-846 and Method 8321. ASTM published D7979-14 for soils and D7979-15 for a variety of aqueous matrices. None of the mentioned methods have been multi-lab validated making it difficult to receive consistent quantitative results. However, progress is being made regarding methods that yield consistent results.

San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Environmental Screening Level Revisions and Updates

In the last year the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (SFRWQCB) made some updates to the Environmental Screening Levels (ESLs).  According to the SFRWQCB website, they make these revisions periodically to reflect changes in toxicity values, changes in the understanding of the fate and transport of contaminants, and other developments in environmental risk assessment.  These updated ESLs are to be used as ways to quickly recognize and evaluate potential environmental impact for soil, vapor, groundwater and indoor air. They make major updates every few years and minor revisions when needed so be sure to check for the most current ESLs on their website or use this link It is important to note that the updates and revisions are separate.

The last update for the all four elements in the ESLs was in December 2013.  The following will be a summary of these updates. First we will talk about the ESLs Workbook Updates.  The ESLs Workbook is an excel spreadsheet which includes four parts: Summary Tables, Interactive Tool, Calculations Tables, and Input Parameters Tables.  Below is a graphic of how it should be used.  While most of the screening levels remain the same the structure and layout of the Workbook has been altered.  They decided to make it easier to read and access things quickly so the workbook was reorganized and now only contains four groups of tables.  In addition to the layout edits they have also made some changes with the screening levels.  Previously, for all ESLs the ceiling value used nuisance/odor and gross contamination concerns as one screening level however now they have separated these into their own categories because they are two very different environmental concerns.  The ceiling value, defined by, is the maximum allowable human exposure limit for an airborne or gaseous substance which is not to be exceeded even momentarily.  Another workbook update to help convenience and usage is; trichloroethene (TCE) indoor air response action levels and trigger levels for soil gas and groundwater are now identified on ESL Table T2-1 when TCE is selected.  The last update to the workbook section was that screening levels for TPH Stoddard solvent have now been added.  Stoddard solvent or “White spirit” is usually just considered an irritant. It has a fairly low toxicity by inhalation of the vapor, dermal and oral routes, however, prolonged exposure can be very hazardous to one’s health.


Figure of the tiered process for selecting screening levels from

Next we will take a look at the updates for groundwater ESLs.  First, a new category now called Tapwater ESLs was created for dermal contact under the health-risk-based groundwater direct exposure Drinking Water ESLs.  Similarly, there was previously no screening levels available for shallow groundwater under vapor intrusion, it was all greater than 10 feet bgs.  Now the new default is shallow groundwater, 10 feet bgs or less).  The soil screening levels for protection of groundwater were put in place to address potential leaching of chemicals into the surface soils and consequent migration to groundwater, for this reason, looking at the first 10 feet bgs is important.  The next update made was for surface water quality standards for bioaccumulation and consumption of aquatic organisms.   This previously had its own table but was not taken into account by the interactive tool.  They are now automatically assessed for the Ecological Aquatic Habitat ESL and listed as Seafood Ingestion screening levels.

There has also been some more general updates, they are as follows.  First, outdated methodology has led to the removal of the urban terrestrial habitat soil ESL.  Next, the subslab/ soil gas ESLs now incorporates subslab soil gas to indoor air attenuation factors for residential and commercial buildings.  In addition, for the input table, toxicity values and exposure factors have been updated.  Lastly, CAS numbers have been added to all tables.  According to, a CAS Registry Number is a numeric identifier that can contain up to 10 digits, divided by hyphens into three parts.  These unique numbers are used to designate only one substance and is linked to information about the specific chemical.

There have also been updates to the User’s Guide but we will not address those here, we will however, list the major revisions.  In May 2016 there were three major revisions made to the ESL Workbook and Summary Tables.  These will all be copied directly form the website and can be found at

The first was a “correction to the non-cancer hazard formula for the “any land use, construction worker soil exposure scenario” (Table S-1). Revision 2 corrected the ingestion and dermal formulas while Revision 3 is now correcting the inhalation formula. This current revision makes several of the noncarcinogenic metals (e.g., barium, beryllium, nickel, and vanadium) the risk driver for the Tier 1 soil ESLs, as was the case originally” (  In this section they had previously revised the ESLs for skin contact but this new revision will help protect workers from inhaling dangerous chemicals. This will be important for your site if people will be coming into contact with the soil.

The second revision made was “The Final Soil Risk Based Screening Levels (Table S-1) for lead are based on the input of central tendency soil ingestion rates into blood lead models. In revision 2 both the “commercial/industrial” and “any land use, construction worker” soil exposure scenarios were changed based on a soil ingestion rate of 100 mg/day. However the “commercial/industrial” ingestion rate of 50 mg/day should not have been changed and therefore was changed back to its original value” ( This was basically just correcting a mistake they had made during the last revision.

The third and final revision was the “Adoption of the oral reference dose (RfD) toxicity value for vanadium given in the RSL user’s guide, which is based on taking the IRIS (integrated risk information system) RfD for vanadium pentoxide and factoring out the molecular weight of the oxide ion. This lowers the noncancer risk based ESLs for direct exposure to groundwater and soil” (

Continuous Monitoring and Response to Vapor Intrusion

Our friends at Cascade Technical Services, Hartman Geosciences, and Groundswell technologies recently gave a talk entitled “Continuous Monitoring and Response to Vapor Intrusion”, about the advantages of continuous monitoring using trichloroethylene (TCE) as an example.

Trichloroethylene has been a subject of multiple lawsuits. IBM Corp. recently settled a lawsuit by 1,000 plaintiffs who alleged that toxic spills from the company’s former Endicott manufacturing plant caused illnesses and deaths, damaged property values, and hurt businesses. In another example, faculty and staff at Oakland Charter High School recently complained that they unaware that they being exposed to TCE and other poisonous compounds. Clearly, more robust monitoring technologies can and should be used for these and many instances.

Trichloroethylene has a cancer-based target of 0.48 ug/m^3 which may take years to achieve. However, the developmental-based target of 2 ug/m^3 only takes days to week to achieve. Thus, failure to account for variability of TCE is a concern for chronic exposure, but a far greater concern for short-term exposures, as the developmental-based target for TCE clearly shows.

New legislation for TCE by Ohio’s EPA for the first time demanded immediate action when contaminant levels exceeded certain established “trigger” levels. In the case of TCE, the Agency expects action within days if the trigger levels are exceeded. This guidance has major implications for businesses, property owners, consultants, and attorneys. The guidance established specific trigger levels for sub-slab vapor and indoor air and mandated that if those levels were exceeded, immediate follow-up action was required. Other states may soon enact such standards.

This new legislation makes it clear that continuous monitoring helps to protect against risks from short-term and also long-term exposure to TCE. Continuous monitoring catches the peaks in indoor air concentration. This is critical because studies have shown variability ranges from two to four orders of magnitude at any site and that discrete measurements will be below the long-term average by one order of magnitude, making it likely that current discrete sampling methods will miss high concentrations.

The challenge is to provide sufficient temporal and spatial resolution to understand the problem, in order to understand 1) the risk to building occupants over acute and chronic time frames, and 2), to elucidate sources of the indoor air contamination. A high resolution system includes temporal resolution, spatial resolution, and immediate response. Temporal resolution may include high frequency monitoring every 10 minutes or less, to observe dynamics, trends, and determine causes. Spatial resolution may include up to 30 locations, to help identify intrusion areas and indoor sources. Immediate response is aimed at exposure prevention, and may include automated alerting and automated engagement of controls.

In this scencon-mon-graphario, it was found that opening a door caused a massive drop in TCE. Such information would help titrate the on and off times for a HVAC system in the building to limit TCE exposure.

Sampling systems usually include a small footprint and can be made relatively stealth. Sampling lines come up to 300m from the instrument and include small diameter tubing (1/8” or ¼”). Operation and maintenance may involve only changing nitrogen every 3 to 5 months and calibration holds for months. Internet connectivity and external controls of HVAC system are all possible. Auto-alerting to your smart phone can alert property managers of real time exceedences of trigger levels, and HVAC system can be turned on and off on demand. Groundswell currently offers monitoring software to make this all possible.


Field Sampling Techniques

In an effort to educate clients about the inner workings of an environmental testing lab, Patricia McIsaac from Test America presented few pointers in a recent webinar.  The following is a summary of the materials presented:

Throughout the process of a water or soil sampling project there should be constant communication with the lab with all documents and information being shared.  While setting up a projects the lab would first like to know if there are known hazards. This is can be solved by properly labeling samples and providing background information.  Some important information to provide would be; what matrices should be used, certifications, compounds of interest, levels of sensitivity, methods, number of samples, Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC) requirements and timeframe.  When labs and field samplers work together they are able to minimize errors.

Collection of field quality control samples are important for every sampling event.  The following may be provided.  One temperature blank will be provided for each cooler to verify the cooler temperature (<6 degrees C) upon receipt.  Some labs have switched to infrared guns to take direct temperature samples, in this case, no temp blank would be necessary.  One trip blank per day for VOCs with analyte free water will be provided to assess if contaminants are introduced while samples are handled in the field or in transit. Typically, one field blank/ equipment blank/ rinsate blank is provided per day per matrix type.  These contain analyte-free water collected from the surface of the decontaminated sampling equipment to verify cleanliness, the water should be supplied by the lab.  Co-located samples/ field duplicates/ field splits are collected at same time and sampling location as primary sample.  Field duplicates are useful in documenting precision.  Finally, matrix spike [MS] and matrix spike duplicates [MSD] are sent at a frequency of one set per twenty field samples for each matrix type.  These are used to determine accuracy of the method.

Chain of Custody (COC) procedures are another important aspect of the sampling project.  Environmental samples can become legal evidence at any time, therefore, their possession must be traceable.  The field samplers initiate COC and the lab signs off when received and notes condition, number, details, etc.  Traditionally, the Laboratory will supply a COC prompting the field staff to supply the necessary information.  sampling1

There are a couple main bottle types used in sampling; high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, amber and or clear glass, and EnCore/TerraCore/Core N’ One.   Holding Time is the length of time a sample can be stored after collecting and prior to analysis without affecting the results.  Holding times vary greatly depending on the analyte, sample matrix or analytical method.   While holding times appear adequate to protect samples, relevant data for individually defined holding time is sparse.  Check out more information about holding times on the EPA website at

Different preservatives are used for different samples but holding times should still be assessed.  Use of preservatives should be discussed with the lab prior to sampling.  Some common preservation techniques include; refrigeration, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide and zero headspace. Refrigeration slows microbial activity, slows chemical reactions, maximizes solubility of gasses/volatiles and minimizes volatilization.  Nitric acid solubilizes metals.  Hydrochloric acid and Sulfuric acid minimize microbial activity.  Sodium hydroxide raises pH to maintain solubility of cyanides and sulfides and zero headspace minimizes volatilization.  These should all be documented on the COC and packed the appropriate way in the coolers.

Whesampling2n packing your samples you want to make sure that the samples will not break or leak before arriving to the lab.  First, you want to pick an appropriate cooler size then place an absorbent pad at the bottom of the cooler with bubble wrap above it.  Add a liner (large clear bag) above the bubble wrap for all samples to go in.  All bottles should be wiped clean and placed in bags for protection with glass bottles in bubble wrap and plastic bottles in zip lock bags.  Make sure there is a temperature blank in each cooler and fill each cooler with ice (all samples need to be at <6 degrees C).  Take into consideration where the samples are being shipped and how long it will take and add more ice or bubble wrap accordingly.  Secure the contents and tie the liner in a knot, place bubble wrap over the top of the liner where the cooler will be shut.  Complete the COC and place it in a plastic bag near the top of the cooler. Remember to take off any unnecessary labels or markings.  The cooler should be closed with sealed with packaging tape as well as tamper evidence seal.

Once the samples arrive to the lab they must go through the acceptance procedure.  The laboratory personnel will first check that the COC is properly completed and that the samples are labeled and in good condition.  Then samples are preserved according to the requirements of the method and the specific holding times.  For volatile organic analysis, a trip blank must be submitted with the samples.

Thank you to Test America for the original presentation on this material.