8.5.2 Lab Availability

Application of ISM to environmental site assessment has primarily occurred in the last few years. Thus, only a few technically advanced commercial laboratories have developed ISM sample processing and handling capabilities, primarily in support of federal agencies such as USACE and USEPA or state agencies such as HDOH and ADEC. As of the survey date in 2009, laboratories providing support work for military sites or sites in Hawaii or Alaska were the most likely to have experience supporting the advanced processes used for incremental samples.

ISM sample processing techniques are so new that many have not been fully documented in laboratory SOPs. Laboratory support for USEPA SW-846 Method 8330B (explosives) is probably the best-documented ISM method. Certification and reference material are available for this method. There are currently no other USEPA-approved ISM methods for other contaminants; thus, the laboratory processes have been developed on a case-by-case basis. Technical conversations between the laboratory and project chemists and other data users early on during the systematic planning process are strongly recommended to ensure that the appropriate support processes are selected to meet the DQOs. Support processes can vary greatly from one laboratory to the next for parameters other than explosives. Guidance about the strengths and limitations of the various options within the laboratory is discussed in Section 6.

It is expected that as use of ISM increases, more laboratories will gain experience, and finding laboratories familiar with the necessary procedures for handling ISM samples will no longer be an issue.