U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Sampling & Analytical Methods (ESAM) Program

Field Sampling, Measurement & Sensor Technology
Oral Presentation

Prepared by , K. Hall, S. Willison, S. Taft

Contact Information: Silvestri.Erin@epa.gov; 513-569-7619


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a comprehensive Environmental Sampling & Analytical Methods (ESAM) program to facilitate a coordinated response to a chemical, radiochemical, biotoxin, or pathogen contamination incident. The program supports EPA’s Environmental Response Laboratory Network (ERLN), including the Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA), and the response community. ESAM is composed of field and laboratory ready documents and web based tools focusing on sample collection, processing and analysis to facilitate site characterization, remediation, and release.

The Sample Collection Information Document (SCID), within ESAM, provides general information for use by EPA, and its contractors, when collecting samples during contamination incidents and environmental remediation efforts. The information is intended to be used during site assessment, remediation and clearance activities and includes guidance on sample containers, collection volumes or weights, preservation, holding times, and packaging for transport to a laboratory. Information in the SCID is available as an online document and via a searchable, database to provide quick access during an incident. Sampling procedures will be used to guide collection of post incident environmental and urban matrices samples specifically intended for analysis using the selected methods. Sampling strategies provide a framework to assist decision-makers in developing and implementing an approach for post incident sample collection. The information provided by the search tool and corresponding documents will ensure that field samples can be properly prepared, processed, and analyzed according to laboratory data quality objectives.

Working with EPA and other federal, state, and local experts, the Selected Analytical Methods (SAM) document, a compendium of analytical methods to be used when responding to chemical, biological, radiochemical and biotoxin contamination incidents within ESAM, was developed. SAM is unique in that it identifies the best method for each contaminant based on analytical technique, method type, and environmental matrix. SAM represents a balance between providing existing, documented techniques and providing consistent and valid analytical results. The document serves a critical need for fast, accurate laboratory analysis. Multiple laboratories may be used to conduct sample analysis during an incident. Ensuring that all laboratories use the same analytical method provides comparable data and eliminates the need to convert or extrapolate data generated from different methods; thus, allowing stakeholders to assess the situation and make decisions in a timely manner. SAM methods have been put into a searchable, online database that is updated as new methods become available. Collectively, ESAM documents and search tools will help federal, state, and local field personnel and laboratories efficiently respond to incidents. The tools provide a process to transition samples from the field into the analytical laboratory with resulting comparable data and information for use by the decision-makers.