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Analysis of environmental contamination resulting from catastrophic incidents: Part 2. Building laboratory capability by selecting and developing analytical methodologies

Magnuson, Matthew, Campisano, Romy, Griggs, John, Fitz-James, Schatzi, Hall, Kathy, Mapp, Latisha, Mullins, Marissa, Nichols, Tonya, Shah, Sanjiv, Silvestri, Erin, Smith, Terry, Willison, Stuart, Ernst, Hiba
Environment international 2014 v.72 pp. 90-97
air, analytical methods, compliance, decontamination, disasters, environmental assessment, forensic sciences, infrastructure, monitoring, occupational accidents, pollution, remediation, screening, soil, wastewater
Catastrophic incidents can generate a large number of samples of analytically diverse types, including forensic, clinical, environmental, food, and others. Environmental samples include water, wastewater, soil, air, urban building and infrastructure materials, and surface residue. Such samples may arise not only from contamination from the incident but also from the multitude of activities surrounding the response to the incident, including decontamination. This document summarizes a range of activities to help build laboratory capability in preparation for sample analysis following a catastrophic incident, including selection and development of fit-for-purpose analytical methods for chemical, biological, and radiological contaminants. Fit-for-purpose methods are those which have been selected to meet project specific data quality objectives. For example, methods could be fit for screening contamination in the early phases of investigation of contamination incidents because they are rapid and easily implemented, but those same methods may not be fit for the purpose of remediating the environment to acceptable levels when a more sensitive method is required. While the exact data quality objectives defining fitness-for-purpose can vary with each incident, a governing principle of the method selection and development process for environmental remediation and recovery is based on achieving high throughput while maintaining high quality analytical results. This paper illustrates the result of applying this principle, in the form of a compendium of analytical methods for contaminants of interest. The compendium is based on experience with actual incidents, where appropriate and available. This paper also discusses efforts aimed at adaptation of existing methods to increase fitness-for-purpose and development of innovative methods when necessary. The contaminants of interest are primarily those potentially released through catastrophes resulting from malicious activity. However, the same techniques discussed could also have application to catastrophes resulting from other incidents, such as natural disasters or industrial accidents. Further, the high sample throughput enabled by the techniques discussed could be employed for conventional environmental studies and compliance monitoring, potentially decreasing costs and/or increasing the quantity of data available to decision-makers.