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Soil Sampling for the Characterization of Hazardous Waste Sites

Environment: Water and Waste

  1. Brian A. Schumacher PhD,
  2. J. Jeffrey van Ee,
  3. Evan J. Englund PhD

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0868

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Schumacher, B. A., van Ee, J. J. and Englund, E. J. 2006. Soil Sampling for the Characterization of Hazardous Waste Sites. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency, Las Vegas, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


The planning for and collecting of samples at hazardous waste sites is nearly always the first step in any program that involves the analysis of real-world soil samples. Knowledge of numerous different, yet related, topics, such as data quality objectives (DQO), sampling network design, quality assurance (QA)/quality control (QC), documentation, site characterization, sample collection, and sample handling and preparation, is essential to ensure the success of any program in obtaining accurate (non-biased), precise, and representative soil samples. It is often quoted that during sample collection, 80% or more, for stable contaminants (e.g. heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, polyaromatic hydrocarbons), ranging up to 99.9%, for less stable contaminants (e.g. volatile organic compounds (VOCs)), of the total measurement error associated with a sample occurs. Hence the goal of the program planner is to develop the most efficient sampling design that collects the desired samples while minimizing sample errors. If all of the aforementioned topics are not taken into account during the sample planning and collecting phases of the program, then no matter how good the analytical data may be, the data may lead to incorrect decisions with respect to the extent, distribution, and need for remediation of contaminants at a site.