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Volatile Organic Compounds

This Fact Sheet is presented by the EPA, Region 3 to assist in the selection of analytical parameters and the associated Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures to be utilized in Phase II Environmental Assessments under the EPA Brownfields initiative. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive. The Brownfields Coordinator for this region may be reached at 215-814-5000.

A volatile organic compound is an organic compound which has a boiling point below that of water and which can easily vaporize or volatilize.

LIST OF VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS *

* Please note: The list above corresponds to the EPA Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) volatile list, and is not a complete list of all toxic volatile organic compounds. If the site history suggests a volatile organic compound may be present which is not on this list, the compound should be included in the requested analysis.

ANALYSIS METHODS

Please note that the methods listed below are EPA approved and the most commonly used by EPA and their contractors. However, they are not the only methods for the analysis of volatile organic compounds. In addition, these are not drinking water test methods.

METHOD APPLICABLE MATRICES
EPA 624 (1) Aqueous
EPA SW-846 5030/8240 OR 5030/8260 (2) Aqueous, Soil/Sediment, & Waste
EPA CLP Statement Of Work 3/90 Aqueous & Soil/Sediment
  1. EPA. 1992. Test Methods for Organic Chemical Analysis of Municipal and Industrial Wastewater. Washington, D.C. July.
  2. EPA. 1986. Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste. SW-846. Washington, D.C. September.

COLLECTION MEDIA/VOLUME

Listed below are the EPA-recommended preservation and holding times as well as suggested glassware.

MATRIX GLASSWARE VOLUME PRESERVATIVE HOLDING TIME
Soil/Sediment 4-oz soil VOA jar 1 4-oz jar ice to 4º C 14 days
Aqueous 40-mL VOA vial 2 40-ml vials HCl to pH <2 & ice to 4º C 14 days if preserved with HCl 7 days without HCl
Waste 4 or 8-oz wide mouth jar 1 4-oz jar none required (ice preferred) none (try not to exceed 14 days)

MINIMUM LABORATORY QUALITY CONTROL MEASURES

The laboratory should have Standard Operating Procedures available for review for the volatile organic analyses and for all associated methods needed to complete the volatile analysis, such as total solids procedures, instrument maintenance procedures, procedures for sample handling, and sample documentation procedures. In addition, the laboratory should have a Laboratory Quality Assurance/Quality Control Statement available for review which includes all key personnel qualifications.

QC TYPE FREQUENCY OF ANALYSIS ACCEPTABLE LIMITS
Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) Tuning Once per day or more frequently if required by method See method criteria for acceptable limits
Initial Calibration Prior to analysis of samples (minimum three concentration levels for every compound and an instrument blank) % Relative Standard Deviation of Response Factors of < 30 (See method for any allowable variations), and a minimum Response Factor of > 0.05 (see method for calculation)
Continuing Calibration Once per day (mid-level standard containing all compounds) or more frequently if required by method % Difference for Response Factor of < 25 (see method for any allowable variations), and a minimum Response Factor of > 0.05 (see method for calculation)
Method Blank Once per day See method for allowable limits
Internal Standards Three per sample (see method for suggested internal standard compounds) -50% to + 100% of Daily standard area and retention time shift (limits depend if packed or capillary column, see method)
Matrix Spike/Matrix Spike Duplicate One set of MS/MSD per 20 samples or analysis set See method for allowable limits
Surrogate Spikes Added to each sample (see method for suggested surrogate compounds) Report recovery

MINIMUM DATA PACKAGE REQUIREMENTS

Note: The optional QC must be maintained by laboratory for at least one year for possible future QC audits.

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization


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