Flexible Approaches for Environmental Monitoring

Reinventing Method Validation for Environmental Monitoring
Oral Presentation

Prepared by , R. Segall, T. Hanley, D. Rice, C. Langlois-Miller, A. Hanley, W. Adams

Contact Information: phelps.lara@epa.gov; 919-541-5544


Assuring the quality of environmental measurements is essential to implementation of EPA's environmental programs, both regulatory and voluntary. In a 1997 Notice of Intent, the Agency outlined a "Performance Based Measurement System (PBMS)" concept that was intended to "improve data quality and encourage advancement of analytical technologies.” In 2008, EPA gauged its progress towards achieving the goals of PBMS, and redefined the steps needed to ensure continued progress.

As a result of this analysis, the Agency believes that while it may be possible to specify performance criteria in a manner that is independent of methods, techniques, or instruments, the development of a single protocol for the validation of all current and future measurements, including measurements made with techniques yet to be invented, is simply not possible. Accordingly, in February 2008 EPA introduced flexible approaches for environmental measurement which capture the Agency's experience of the past ten years and set the stage for future progress. In November 2015, the Agency reaffirmed this commitment and wants to update internal and external stakeholders on the progress each of our programs has made.

The key goals for these flexible approaches are as follows:
• Continue to emphasize flexibility in choosing sampling and analytical approaches to meet regulatory requirements for measurements;
• Development of processes for validation that confirm that measurements meet quality requirements;
• Continue to collaborate with stakeholders to develop validation processes for new measurement technology; and
• Rapid assessment of new or modified technologies, methods and procedures.

The history of the Agency’s work to improve data quality plus the advancement of analytical technology, these goals, and the work of each of our media offices will be presented in this session.