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Analytical Methods for Drinking Water

Learn about Drinking Water Analytical Methods

On this page:

What are analytical methods?

Analytical methods are procedures used to measure the amount of particular contaminants in water samples.

Analytical methods generally describe how to:

  • Collect, preserve, and store the sample
  • Gather, separate, identify, and measure contaminants in the sample
  • Meet quality control criteria
  • Report the results of the analysis

In general, an analytical method:

  • Applies to routine analyses of samples
  • Measures the drinking water contaminant(s) within a specific upper and lower limit
  • Provides data that are required to:
    • Demonstrate compliance, or
    • Meet monitoring objectives in a wide variety of drinking water conditions
  • Incorporates appropriate quality control criteria so that acceptable method performance is demonstrated during sample analysis

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Who develops methods?

EPA uses the Alternate Test Procedure Program to evaluate analytical methods from a variety of sources.

Methods are developed by:

  • EPA or other governmental organizations
  • Consensus method organizations such as Standard Methods and ASTM, International
  • Universities
  • Water laboratories
  • Commercial vendors

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How does EPA approve methods?

EPA approves methods:

  • When regulating new contaminants or through other rulemaking actions
  • Using the expedited approval process

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Who uses the methods?

Laboratories supporting public water systems must use EPA-approved analytical methods when analyzing samples to:

  • Meet federal monitoring requirements
  • Demonstrate compliance with drinking water regulations

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How can I get involved?

EPA Announces a Public Meeting and Webinar: June 6, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) at the Andrew W. Breidenbach Environmental Research Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

  • Purpose: Continue open discussion with stakeholders and spark innovation on analytical testing procedures for unregulated contaminants in drinking water.
  • Participants can attend the meeting in-person or online.
  • The public agenda for the public meeting and webinar will include time for open discussion.

Those who wish to participate in the public meeting, whether in person or via webinar, must register in advance no later than 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) on June 3, 2018.

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