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Data Quality and Planning

Personnel that collect environmental samples, or analyze the samples in a laboratory, need clear instructions on the procedures that will be used to collect and analyze samples. Sample data must be of known and documented quality to increase confidence in the decisions being made based on this data. This is accomplished through development of a well-defined and thorough sampling and analysis plans (SAP). During SAP development, criteria for the sampling and analysis activities and associated quality of the results are defined. The SAP includes information on:

  • background of the incident
  • scope and objectives of the sampling and analysis efforts
  • sampling and laboratory personnel and resources
  • logistics
  • lines of evidence (all sources of information pertinent to the contaminant release, its impact, and efforts to reduce the contamination)Researchers discussing data
  • field sampling strategies and protocols
  • laboratory analyses and reporting considerations and protocols
  • performance and acceptance criteria
  • quality objectives
  • quality control and assessment
  • considerations for interpreting results

The SAP might require modification at any time throughout the project. Several supplemental plans inherent to sample collection and analysis should also be considered when developing the SAP.  These include:

  • quality assurance project plan,
  • health and safety plan
  •  waste management plan
  • data management plan

During collection and assessment of the results, it is important to ensure that the protocols outlined in the SAP were followed according to the established criteria.

HSRP conducts research in support of determining how to develop SAPs needed in support of sampling and analysis for contamination incidents for which   EPA would be responsible. These resources are also applicable to development of SAPs for research studies and exercises related to contamination incidents.

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