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Improving the Quality of Agency Methods

The Forum on Environmental Measurements (FEM) recognizes the need to continue to improve the quality of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's or the Agency's) methods and has taken two courses of action to address this area. In concurrent efforts, a team worked to identify, define, and correct concerns with existing EPA issued measurement methods, while another team addressed the importance that all EPA measurement methods receive adequate validation and peer review before being issued.

Scientifically sound methods of sampling and analysis are pivotal in obtaining technically valid data that can be used by the EPA to support decision-making, and monitoring and enforcement programs. Historically, it has taken years to correct problem methods once they are identified. A FEM Action Team worked with measurement, monitoring, and laboratory organizations thru an Agency federal advisory committee, the Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board (ELAB), to identify "problem methods" only to discover communication was the overarching issue. In an effort to eliminate this issue, a methods conduit has been established to link method sites maintained by a variety of EPA and external organizations, which is discussed further under Communications/Outreach.

In the early 1990’s, the Environmental Monitoring Management Council (EMMC), which was the predecessor group to the FEM, developed a standardized method format for all programs to use as they wrote new methods. Since then, our program offices have used this format as the template for revising old methods and writing new ones establishing a very consistent framework for all Agency methods. Program-specific approaches to the method formats are provided below.

  • Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Emissions Measurement Center (PDF) About PDF
  • Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (PDF) About PDF
  • Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (PDF) About PDF
  • The objective of the FEM's validation action teams has been to help develop guidelines as to what constitutes the minimum level of method validation and peer review before methods are issued by the Agency. These action teams are reviewing the state of methods validation and peer review within the EPA and comparing it to recognized national standards and EPA policies. Documents that have been developed and approved for Agency use are below with others still under development for other scientific disciplines (e.g., biology, sampling for biology).

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