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Substantial costs are incurred to obtain and analyze samples. But, there are common pitfalls in the field and in the laboratory that can compromise the reliability of environmental data. This section provides access to papers previously published by experienced environmental and laboratory professionals to help environmental regulators and practitioners avoid data quality problems. (These papers are from literature in the public domain, or are posted here with permission.)

  Performance-Based Evaluation of Laboratory Quality Systems: An Objective Tool to Identify QA Program Elements that Actually Impact Data Quality
  Sevada K. Aleckson, Western Region Quality Assurance Manager
Quanterra Inc., 1721 S. Grand Avenue, Santa Ana, California 92705 Tel. (714) 258-8610, Fax (714) 258-0921 Garabet H. Kassakhian, Ph.D., Quality Assurance Director Tetra Tech, Inc., 670 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, California 91107-2190 Tel. (818) 351-4664
  On-site laboratory evaluations, a key element of the laboratory approval process, encourage the proper implementation of analytical methods and provide supporting documentation to demonstrate method performance. These evaluat ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (81K/PDF)
  Maintaining Control at a Rapid Response Field Analytical Support Project - A Case Study of Performance-Based Measurement Systems
  Edwin Neal Amick, Senior Scientist
Lockheed Martin Services Group, 7411 Beach Drive East, Port Orchard, WA
  The Lockheed Martin Field Analytical Support Project (FASP) Team routinely uses performance-based analytical methods to provide rapid results at environmental field sites using mobile laboratories. This work is performed unde ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (19K/PDF)
  Fast and Efficient Volatiles Analysis by Purge and Trap GC/MS
  C. Eric Boswell
National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory, Mixed Waste Analytical Program, 540 South Morris Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36115 (334) 270-7071
  Recent changes in environmental regulatory paradigms, such as EPA’s performance-based measurement systems (PBMS), are lowering method compliance barriers for laboratories working under the Resource Conservation and Recovery A ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (365K/PDF)
  The Method Detection Limit: Fact or Fantasy?
  Richard Burrows, Ph.D., Director, Technology
Quanterra Inc., 4955 Yarrow St., Arvada, Colorado 80002 Jack Hall, Director, Quality Assurance Quanterra Inc., 5815 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee 37921
  This paper discusses whether the Method Detection Limit (MDL), as currently measured and calculated in most actual laboratory practice, can realistically present a true picture of analytical method sensitivity.
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (538K/PDF)
  Quality Control: The Great Myth
  Thomas L. Francoeur, Atlantic Ecotechnologies/TEG Northwest, 160 Longwoods Road, Cumberland, ME 04021
  Both data generators and data users are under economic pressure to drive down the cost of their respective services. This pressure forces data generators to take shortcuts, and data users circumvent the Data Quality Objective ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (3074K/PDF)
  Suggestions for Reduction of Analytical Costs by Elimination of Unnecessary Quality Control (QC) Samples
  Douglas M. Chatham
5413 Forest Ridge Dr., Loganville, GA 30052-3437 Environmental Specialist and QC Chemist J.M. Waller Associates, Inc. under contract to the U.S. Army Reserve Command, 1401 Deshler Street, SW, Fort McPherson, GA 30330-2000 Web page:; e-mail:
  A rationale is presented for collecting fewer QC samples for hazardous-waste projects and to encourage project managers and quality assurance project officers to question the need for every QC sample or activity. Many field Q ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (21K/PDF)
  In Search of Representativeness: Evolving the Environmental Data Quality Model
  Deana M. Crumbling
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation Office, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460 703-603-0643
  Environmental regulatory policy states a goal of ‘‘sound science.’’ The practice of good science is founded on the systematic identfication and management of uncertainties; i.e., knowledge gaps that compromise our ability to ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (108K/PDF)
  Techniques for Improving the Accuracy of Calibration in the Environmental Laboratory
  Dennis A. Edgerley
Quanterra Environmental Services, 880 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, California 95605
  Consistent and reliable procedures for generating calibrations are essential to accurate laboratory results. Unfortunately the interpretation of acceptable practice is often based on misunderstanding or derived from practices ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (500K/PDF)
  Performance Based Criteria, A Panel Discussion
  Michael T. Homsher (Hazardous Material Management Program at the University of Findlay, Findlay, Ohio); Fred Haeberer, PhD (Quality Assurance Management Staff at U.S. EPA, Washington, DC); Paul J. Marsden, PhD (senior scientist at Scientific Applications Inc., San Diego, CA); Ronald K. Mitchum, PhD (president of Research Triangle Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio); Dean Neptune, PhD (Quality Assurance Management Staff at U.S. EPA, Washington, DC); and John Warren, PhD (Office of Policy Planning for U.S. EPA, Washington, DC)
  On July 9, 1991, five panel members representing several sectors of the environmental analysis industry convened in Washington, DC, at the invitation of the University of Findlay, Wheaton Scientific, I-Chem Research and VWR S ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (3849K/PDF)
  Lessons Learned from Performance Evaluation Studies
  Ruth L. Forman, Quality Assurance Specialist/Principal
Rock J. Vitale, CPC Technical Director or Chemistry/Principal Environmental Standards, Inc., 1140 Valley Forge Road, Valley Forge, PA 19482
  Performance Evaluation (PE) samples are routinely utilized by both the regulatory and regulated communities to demonstrate a laboratory’s proficiency in performing a given analytical method. PE samples are submitted to labora ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (79K/PDF)
  Method 8261: Using Surrogates to Measure Matrix Effects and Correct Analytical Results
  Michael Hiatt
National Exposure Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, 944 East Harmon Ave., Las Vegas, NV 89119 702-798-2381
  This paper reports use of a vacuum distillation method to determine volatile organic compounds in difficult matrices incorporating a novel approach to optimizing QA requirements. The resultant method (SW-846 Method 8261, ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (9K/PDF)
  Options in Data Validation: Principles for Checking Analytical Data Quality
  Ms. Shawna Kennedy, Staff Chemist
EcoChem, Inc., 801 Second Avenue, Suite 1401, Seattle, Washington 98104
  US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Contract Laboratory Program National Functional Guidelines for Organic Data Review and EPA Contract Laboratory Program National Functional Guidelines for Inorganic Data Review (referre ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (75K/PDF)
  Investigation versus Remediation: Perception and Reality
  Emma P. Popek, Ph.D., Field Analytical Services Manager
OHM Remediation Services Corp., 5731 West Las Positas, Pleasanton, California 94588 telephone (510) 227-1105 ext. 426, fax (510) 463-0719 Garabet H. Kassakhian, Ph.D., Quality Assurance Director Tetra Tech, Inc., 670 North Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena, California 91107-2190, telephone (818) 351-4664
  Investigative strategies, not based on project Data Quality Objectives (DQO) and/or not statistically justified, have a high risk of producing non-representative analytical data. The problem is further aggravated by a data va ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (83K/PDF)
  The Role of a Compliance Program and Data Quality Review Procedure under PBMS
  Ann Rosecrance
Core Laboratories, 5295 Hollister Road, Houston, TX 77040 (713) 329-7414
  Strict QC programs have not always been effective in ensuring method and project compliance and in preventing ethics violations. Under PBMS, a comprehensive compliance program is warranted to help ensure compliance of all ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (24K/PDF)
  Sample Handling Strategies for Accurate Lead-in-soil Measurements in the Field and Laboratory
  Stephen Shefsky
NITON Corporation, 900 Middlesex Turnpike Building 8, Billerica, MA 01821
  The inhomogenous lead-in-soil matrix can present serious obstacles to accurate sample collection and handling. In typical lead-in-soil measurement, particle size related errors in sampling and sample handling often exceed all ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (103K/PDF)
  Comparing Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) To Laboratory Analysis Of Heavy Metals In Soil
  Stephen Shefsky
NITON Corporation, 900 Middlesex Turnpike Building 8, Billerica, MA 01821
  Field portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) continues to gain acceptance as a complement to traditional laboratory testing of metal contaminated soil. The quality of data produced by field XRF varies with site conditions, soil co ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (103K/PDF)
  Laboratory Analyst Training in the 1990's and Beyond
  Roy-Keith Smith, PhD, Analytical Methods Manager
Analytical Services, Inc., 110 Technology Parkway, Norcross, Georgia 30092
  This paper argues that many persons who work in environmental laboratories in the United States can be characterized as having little to no idea of what they are doing or why, resulting in a very low level of professionali ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (176K/PDF)
  Questionable Practices in the Organic Laboratory: Part II
  Joseph Solsky, Chemist
US Army Corps of Engineers (CENWO-HX-C), 12565 W Center Road, Omaha, NE 68144
  During recent environmental laboratory audits conducted by the USACE, certain ‘questionable practices’ have been observed, especially in the organic analysis areas. Most people have a relatively good idea of what constitut ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (21K/PDF)
  An Application of USEPA's Data Quality Objective Process
  Karen A. Storne
O’Brien & Gere Engineers, Inc., 5000 Brittonfield Parkway, Syracuse, NY 13221
  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) states that all collected data have error, no one can afford absolute certainty about the data, and uninformed decisions associated with data collection tend to be con ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (41K/PDF)
  A Case Study Using a Comparative Tiered Validation Scheme
  Eric Strout, Senior Project Chemist
EcoChem, Inc., 801 Second Avenue, Suite 1401, Seattle, Washington 98104
  While data validation is an important step in ensuring data quality and usability, many project managers are reluctant to include validation due to the perceived cost and time requirements. When validation is not performed, t ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (496K/PDF)
  Historical Perspective of Performance-Based Measurement Systems (PBMS) at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA)
  Mary K. Wolf, Chemist
Lockheed Martin Systems Support & Training Services, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Bldg. 130, 72nd and Quebec, Commerce City, CO 80022
  Compliance monitoring under a performance-based measurement systems (PBMS) is an on-going process at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (RMA) in Commerce City, CO. RMA is a Superfund site where disposal of industrial and military ch ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (79K/PDF)
  Interpretation of Ground Water Chemical Quality Data
  G. M. Zemansky
Compass Environmental, Inc., 3000 W. 19th Court, Lawrence, Kansas 66047-2300
  Ground water is sampled to assess its quality for a variety of purposes. Whatever the purpose, it can only be achieved if results are representative of actual site conditions and are interpreted in the context of those condit ...
  View Full Abstract  |  View/Download Article (116K/PDF)

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Page Last Modified: March 13, 2003