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One of the critical factors for successfully conducting site evaluation/removal activities and providing support for emergency responses is rapid and appropriate analytical laboratory capability to analyze a wide variety of samples and matrices in a timely fashion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Response Team (U.S. EPA/ERT) is in the forefront of efforts to utilize on-site analytical laboratorysupport(mobile laboratories) and state of the art. On-site analytical laboratories can provide results to site managers or emergency response personnel within a few hours compared to days or even weeks for off-site laboratories. The U.S. EPA/ERT, through its Response Engineering Analytical Contract (REAC), has successfully utilized on-site analytical laboratory support during the past 25 years to obtain cost savings of over two million dollars for sample analysis costs and unaccounted field personnel hours.
Mobile Laboratory Capabilities :
Appropriate usage of on-site analytical laboratory support provides quick turnaround for time critical data needed for field decisions concerning emergency response, site characterization, treatability, and remediation/removal activities. High-quality analyses can be achieved with detection limits well below containment action levels. Rigorous Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures ensure the reliability of the analytical data. Furthermore, on-site laboratory capabilities which can be utilized for on-site characterization of pollutant levels in soil, water, air and complex sample matrices, include:
* Atomic Absorption (AA) or inductively coupled plasma (ICP) spectroscopy for inorganic metal analyses of water, soil, and other media.
* Gas Chromatography (GC) for analysis of Pesticides/Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Pentachlorophenol (PCP), and creosote compounds in environmental samples.
* Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) for analysis of base neutral/acid extractables (BNAs), Volatile Organics (VOAs), PCP and creosote compounds in environmental samples.
*X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) for analysis of metal contaminants in soil/sediment.
* Extraction and analysis of non-routine pollutants (such as dicamba and benzonitrile) as necessary.
* On-site lab analytical method development/modification, preferably site specific.
Data Management Support:
Utilizing mobile laboratory and field analytical capabilities often results in the generation of large amounts of data in the field. In order to effectively achieve the benefits of rapid turnaround, field results, the project team will need to ensure the proper management and interpretation of this data in the field and communicate findings to decision makers, some of whom may not be actually in the field. By doing so, the tools will allow a dynamic decision project that can shorten timeframes and reduce costs over traditional investigations. To support the full utility of the field tools and the dynamic nature of field investigations, ERT offers a variety of data management tools and support options.
Accessing Mobile Lab Capabilities:
ERT, on-site mobile laboratory capabilities are available to EPA RPMs, OSCs, Brownfields program staff.
Raj Singhvi, Chemist, Environmental Response Team.