Sample Collection is the first, and perhaps the most important step in the analytical process. Poor sampling inhibits the labs ability to produce representative data of a sampling source. Sampling is comprised of 5 main steps:
1. Create a Field Sampling Plan
2. Contact lab to order bottle kit and discuss any scheduling complications
3. Conduct sampling following instructions from Field Sampling Plan and the lab
4. Release Custody of Samples to the lab, or a third party shipper
5. Review Sample Receipt to ensure correct analyses are ordered
What do each of these steps mean? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Field Sampling Plan- This is necessary to succeed in sampling, and generally should include the following:
- General Facility Info or Sampling Locations
- Contact Person and Samplers Name
- Sampling Objectives
- Facility of Location Information (PWS codes for drinking water)
- Data Quality objectives
- Sampling Points
- Sample Collection Procedure
- Sample Handling Procedure
- Equipment Checklist
- Equipment Preparation and Cleaning Procedures
2. Ordering Bottles and Scheduling Sampling- Call us to order your sample containers. The bottles provided will be bagged together into “sets” to keep each site organized. A cooler will also be provided. The lab will generally need the following information:
- What are you sampling for?
- How many sites do you intend to sample?
- When are samples being collected and when will they be delivered to the lab?
- Are any additional sampling supplies required (COCs, gloves, extra coolers, ice packs, custody seals, Ziploc bags, etc.)?
Depending on the situation, more coordinating and information may be required! For example:
Courier Pick Up or Drop Off– If you need sample containers dropped off at your site or picked up from a courier, it is wise to plan sampling around your labs standard courier routes. You can find WETLAB’s standard courier schedule here.
Sample Shipping– If samples are being shipped to or from a remote location, consider the amount of time samples will be in transit. If you are sending short-hold samples, selecting a “next day delivery” option may be necessary.
Subcontracted Work– Most subcontracting is shipped to southern CA and NV, therefore, factor this extra time in transit when making your sample plan. Furthermore, avoid delivering samples requiring subcontracting on Fridays, as they cannot ship out until the following Monday.
Weekend Work– Weekend work is not ideal, however, it is sometimes unavoidable! It is important, however, to notify your lab as soon as possible about weekend work so that staff can be scheduled to accommodate the request.
3. Sampling- Once the game plan is set, it is time to execute your sampling project.
- Follow the steps outlined in your Sampling Plan and make sure to follow any special instructions provided by your lab.
- Take note of the weather conditions, high and low temperatures can drastically affect how you pack and transport your samples.
- Wear PPE! Gloves, glasses, masks, hairnets… they all serve a purpose to keep you safe and/or your samples clean.
- Make sure to add the proper preservatives to your samples in the field, add custody seals to bottles or coolers if your sample plan requires them, and make sure to use bubble packaging for glass containers.
4. Releasing Custody of Samples- An additional responsibility of a sampler is properly documenting sample information and signing for any change of sample custody. The analytical Chain of Custody (or COC) is a required legal document submitted with samples to the laboratory. This document is a requirement for any sample submission to a lab, and serves numerous purposes:
- Client and Reporting information
- Turnaround time, compliance needs for reporting, report format, and QC requirements
- Sample ID, Date/Time, Preservatives, Matrix, Number of Containers, and required tests
- Miscellaneous comments, including hazard warnings, reporting requests, sample return requests, preservative notes, etc.
- Relinquishing custody of the samples
5. Review Sample Receipt- WETLAB can send you an electronic “ sample receipt” which will list the entered information from your Chain of Custody, the receiving conditions of your samples (including anomalies), and an itemized list of all the analytical testing slated for your samples.
This is the final check before the testing will commence, so it’s important to review as soon as possible and contact the lab with any questions or concerns.
Contact WETLAB at (775)355-0202 to discuss your sampling requirements and project needs.