Ensuring Your Data are Fit for Forensic Analysis Use

Environmental Forensics
Oral Presentation

Prepared by L. Cook, L. Benton
Exponent, 1 Main and Mill Place, Maynard, MA, 01754, United States

Contact Information: lcook@exponent.com; 978-760-9000


Site investigations associated with contaminated property and urban waterways are growing increasingly more complex with sample analytical data collected over many years and decades, with different investigation purposes, and by a variety of parties. At some point in this process, data from a full array of the investigative studies are compiled into a comprehensive dataset to address questions related to contaminant sources, remedial actions, and equitable allocations. Once compiled, the underlying variability in the data between studies and laboratories may not be fully understood by the data users. Failure to evaluate differences in the data between studies and laboratories can lead to inaccurate or misleading forensic analyses. This can be further complicated by laboratories bringing on-line more complex forensic and specialty analyses without adequate in-house expertise to ensure production of high-quality data.

For this presentation, case studies will be used to illustrate the potential impacts of data variability on forensic analyses. Case studies will highlight challenges associated with: 1) anomalous PAH data associated with MGP impacted sediments in an urban waterway, 2) laboratory variability impacts on evaluation of key forensic ratios, and 3) PCB congener analysis inconsistencies. From these case studies, approaches will be presented to identify challenges in existing data and to minimize them for future site investigations.