Environmental Analysis Snapshot

In the environmental remediation business pretty much all the methods are in the”SW-846,” our manual of test methods.  If you look at the Table of Contents at: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/hazard/testmethods/sw846/pdfs/toc.pdf you’ll see them all listed and I’ll mention a couple here that we work with.
What’s not in there is what we do in the field for monitoring.  We’re still using PID/FID instruments and radiation meters, NaI scintillation, for most initial characterizations.  We also have an instrument that using atomic absorption to analyze mercury vapor and we’ve developed situation specific air sampling and analysis method selection guides which I think are excellent.  For field screening, we often use X-ray fluorescence instrumentation (6200) for metal detection and immunoassay (4000 series) for pesticide detection and we correlate these results to lab analyses routinely.
In water and in air we use GCMS for VOCs (8260) and SVOCs (8270), but we use the soil methods for VOCs only rarely.  Nowadays we are using SUMMA canisters (TO-14) for air sampling although we still use TO-15 with sorbent tubes periodically.  We would use “SUMMAs” for most things from indoor air sampling up through a disaster like the Chevron Fire with the Air Quality Management District as an example.  For pesticides, 99% of the time we deal with the organochlorines, not the organophosphates, in soils and sediments – usually at pesticide dumpsites although rumors are that OPs are resurfacing in CA.  We use GCMS (8081) with Soxhlet extraction for these pesticide analyses.  We deal with PCBs a lot in soil, sediment and oil (8082), and PAHs mostly at oil spills (8100).  In recent work on fish tissue we’ve been doing high resolution GCMS for PCBs and pesticides and some plasticizers (Alkylphenol, PBDE and BPA).
Metals are also very common for us to work with, lead and arsenic in particular in soils.  Pretty sure we use 6010 – ICP Atomic Emission with acid digestion (3050).  Sometimes we do inorganic mercury as well.  Rarely we do the total and dissolved methods for surface waters.  We’ve been working on lead and arsenic bioavailability methods lately as well.   Finally, we do Radium in soils and in water (as well and U and gross alpha/beta – in water).  Radium in soils has been a weird deal and we vacillate between gamma spectroscopy and radon emanation methods.  We do this for Uranium mine cleanup but we still have not decided on the preferred method.
PM 2.5 monitoring is becoming very important,  and the E-BAM (from MetOne, Inc.) is a great real-time tool for this. Colleagues at the Air Resources Board routinely deploy portable E-BAMs at large wildfires adding to the State-wide, fixed monitoring network.

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