Environmental molecular diagnostics (EMDs) are a group of advanced and emerging analytical techniques used to analyze biological and chemical characteristics of environmental samples. Conventional data (e.g., hydrogeological data, chemical, and geochemical analyses) often provide only indirect data regarding the mechanisms and rates of key attenuation or treatment processes. EMDs can complement these data by providing direct measurements of the organisms, genes or enzymes involved in contaminant biodegradation, of the relative contributions of abiotic and biotic processes, and of the relative rates of various degradation processes. The information provided by EMDs can improve estimates of attenuation rates and capacities and improve remedy performance assessments and optimization efforts. Improved understanding of the biological and non-biological degradation processes also can lead to greater confidence in MNA or closure decisions. EMDs have application in each phase of environmental site management (including site characterization, remediation, monitoring, and closure activities), address a wide variety of contaminants (including PCE, PCBs, radionuclides, perchlorate, fuels), and work with various media (including groundwater, soil, sediments, soil vapor).
Although EMDs have been used over the past 25 years in various scientific fields, particularly medical research and diagnostic fields, their application to environmental remediation management is relatively new and rapidly developing. The ITRC Environmental Molecular Diagnostics Fact Sheets (EMD-1, 2011), ITRC Environmental Molecular Diagnostics Technical and Regulatory Guidance (EMD-2, 2013) and this companion Internet-based training will foster the appropriate uses of EMDs and help regulators, consultants, site owners, and other stakeholders to better understand a site and to make decisions based on the results of EMD analyses. At the conclusion of the training, learners will be able to determine when and how to use the ITRC Environmental Molecular Diagnostics Technical and Regulatory Guidance (EMD-2, 2013); define when EMDs can cost-effectively augment traditional remediation data sets; and describe the utility of various types of EMDs during remediation activities.
Training participants are encouraged to review the ITRC EMD Fact Sheets, in particular the Introduction to EMDs fact sheet, before the Internet-based training.