Bullet Proof Data Sets - PBiol Presentation


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Presentation on the importance of planning environmental sampling and some of the data quality issues that can become an issue during a litigation situation. Topics include sampling strategies, documentation, data quality etc.

Published in: Environment, Technology
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  • Excellent Court - Plaintiffs didn't have a chance they were so sloppy. I always find it is much easier to work with a defendent because then you can do sampling and analysis correctly.
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Bullet Proof Data Sets - PBiol Presentation

  1. 1. Providing Bullet Proof Data Sets for Environmental Matters – Is it Legally Defensible? Court D. Sandau, PhD, PChem Chemistry Matters Inc. PBiol Brownbag Lunch Seminar – November 22, 2011
  2. 2. The Foundation of All Environmental Investigations Litigation Remediation & Risk Assessment Site Investigation Phase I, II, III Data Quality Precision, Accuracy, Reproducibility, Comparability, Representative, Collected Properly, Documented, COC Progression of Investigation www.chemistry-matters.com 2
  3. 3. Investigation Road Map Field Event Sampling Design Reporting DQOs QAPP www.chemistry-matters.com 3
  4. 4. 5P rule Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance www.chemistry-matters.com 4
  5. 5. Data Flow for Environmental Investigations Data Generation and Review 1 2 Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) Requirements Identified External Parties Validation of the Laboratory Analytical Data (Not the Lab) Project Scope Defined Field Activities Laboratory Analysis Data Quality Data Usability Assessment Data Repository e.g., Database (General or Project) Data may support future project needs QAPP Analytical requirements sent to lab Samples + COC info Analytical Data Package Data on Sample Location Validated Analytical Data Field Logs Information Project Decision(s) + Supporting Data 3 4 6 5 8 7 www.chemistry-matters.com 5
  6. 6. Science Experiment • All environmental investigations should be treated as a science experiment: Design (hypothesis, to answer a question) Data (correct, enough) Controls (to know validity of data and uncertainty) www.chemistry-matters.com 6
  7. 7. Case Background • Residents of town in Texas alleged exposure to contaminants from local wood treatment facility • Initiated a class action lawsuit • PAHs, Dioxins/Furans, metals – main CoCs • Representing the defendant • Each side collects their own data www.chemistry-matters.com 7
  8. 8. Choice of Sampling Locations Plaintiffs • Sampled oldest houses in the town • Sampled homes closest to plant Defendants • Sampled homes of all ages and areas of town, including “background” www.chemistry-matters.com 8
  9. 9. Sampling Strategy • Composite or discrete • Statistical / Judgmental / Opportunistic Hotspot < 100m2 Define Average Conc. 95% Confident not Systematic grid Systematic grid Contaminated Random www.chemistry-matters.com 9
  10. 10. Sampling Strategy • Best to have strategy before heading to site • Non-biased, statistical sampling is best • If judgmental sampling – Is the person qualified to make the judgments – Are the judgments being documented – reasons why? • Used years later – Remember that one person’s judgment may be different than another • Must be able to defend choices www.chemistry-matters.com 10
  11. 11. Choice of Sampling Technique Plaintiffs - Vacuum bought at local store then ‘MacGyver’d’ Defendants - Used US-EPA developed vacuum design - Followed ASTM Method D5438–05 protocol for sampling www.chemistry-matters.com 11
  12. 12. Sampling Procedures • Always use standardized or validated sampling (operating) procedures • Always have an SOP written and at the site • Have staff read and sign they have read and understood the SOP • Check to make sure staff are following the SOPs • Video the sampling of contentious sites www.chemistry-matters.com 12
  13. 13. Sample Containers Plaintiffs • Water bottles, cut in half and taped together with duct tape Defendants •EPA approved glass, certified clean sample jars www.chemistry-matters.com 13
  14. 14. Sample Containers • Never use water bottles to collect a sample • Use appropriate containers – Careful of contaminant • Is preservative necessary? • How full does container need to be? – Headspace, no headspace – Will sample be frozen • Tamper proof seal www.chemistry-matters.com 14
  15. 15. Sampling Locations Plaintiffs • Collected dust from normally inaccessible attics spaces Defendants • Sampled carpet in living areas of the homes www.chemistry-matters.com 15
  16. 16. Sampling • Why are you taking the sample? • What are the CoCs? • What is your conceptual site model? – What exposure are you worried about or trying to represent? • Is the sampling technique appropriate for the model/guideline? www.chemistry-matters.com 16
  17. 17. Sample Pre/Post-Treatment Plaintiffs • Sample was submitted as is… Defendants • Need to represent human exposure which is <120 μm particles • Sieved to ASTM standard 422-63 www.chemistry-matters.com 17
  18. 18. Sample Pre/Post-Treatment • Does sample require preservative? • Does sample need to be sieved prior to putting in sample bottle? Sieved by lab? – Remove rocks – Remove organic matter (roots/grass) – Remove dead spiders/moths etc… www.chemistry-matters.com 18
  19. 19. Documentation Plaintiffs • Little documentation, no SOPs, legal chain of custody not followed Defendants • Lots of picture • Great field notes • SOPs written and followed • Sampling plan developed before site visit • Legal chain of custody followed www.chemistry-matters.com 19
  20. 20. Documentation Sampling Forms Field Notes COCs Maps • Pictures, videos • GPS coordinates of sampling points and site characteristics www.chemistry-matters.com 20 NNamame e
  21. 21. Legally Defensible Notes • Waterproof notebooks and pens • Only use legally defensible notebooks – Bound, no ripped out pages, pages numbered • www.riteintherain.com/ www.chemistry-matters.com 21
  22. 22. Documentation • Pictures, Pictures, Pictures – Document like “CSI” • Video standard procedures as needed – Sometimes video every sample collected • GPS – use best technique available – Many people associate precision = accuracy • Handheld GPS +/- 3-5 m vs sub-cm www.chemistry-matters.com 22
  23. 23. Field Notes & Documentation • Good notes caught observation that well pump had duct tape on it • Positive hit for toluene in water – potential blame on the client for impacting well • Electricians tape had a concentration of toluene that was calculated to be 290 mg/kg • Could show that electrical tape caused positive hit for toluene •Field notes •Observations from experiment www.chemistry-matters.com 23
  24. 24. Completeness • No empty fields • Completeness/thoroughness is key • Data blanks make it look incomplete or careless • Questioning whether procedures were followed • Sloppiness (e.g. wrong number of samples on COC) is unacceptable • Data used months to years after the fact – Sometimes new consultant needs to use the data www.chemistry-matters.com 24
  25. 25. Field Work • Completeness and thoroughness takes time • Cannot rush – easy to forget or miss something • Developing SOPs and checklists for on-site activities is a good way to develop a “system” • Systems, once in place, provide efficiencies and long term consistency www.chemistry-matters.com 25
  26. 26. Chain of Custody www.chemistry-matters.com 26
  27. 27. Maintaining Custody From a legal perspective, a sample is under custody if: • the sample is in a person’s possession • the sample is in a person’s view after being in possession • the sample was in the person’s possession and then was locked up to prevent tampering • the sample is in a designated secure area www.chemistry-matters.com 27
  28. 28. Chain of Custody • Should be filled out in completion • All samples accounted for – Lab issues – Loss of custody • COC used for future reference www.chemistry-matters.com 28
  29. 29. Sample Packaging: Cooler Check List Item Yes If no.... Are samples properly contained and chemically preserved? Correct Are samples properly labeled? Correct Initials of collector, time, date of collection? Correct Are samples properly sealed? Correct Is necessary preservative present, i.e. ice? Correct Has chain of custody form been completed? Correct Does chain of custody information match sample labels? Correct Copy of chain of custody form taped to cooler lid and maintained inside cooler in whirlpack bag? Correct Samples properly packaged to withstand breakage? Correct Are coolers custody sealed? Correct Was storage temperature maintained between sample collection and lab receipt May require resampling www.chemistry-matters.com 29
  30. 30. Thermochron 40 30 20 10 0 -10 -20 -30 24-Nov-08 25-Nov-08 26-Nov-08 27-Nov-08 28-Nov-08 29-Nov-08 30-Nov-08 1-Dec-08 2-Dec-08 3-Dec-08 Date Temperature (° C) Samples collected Samples moved to freezer Samples moved to shipping cooler Samples received www.chemistry-matters.com 30
  31. 31. Relinquishing COC • Each person that handles samples until (including) receipt at lab must sign/date COC • Best to have samples sorted for laboratory receipt • Good practice – samples grouped by analysis requested • Don’t need sorting issue to be a problem after all the effort put into collecting samples www.chemistry-matters.com 31
  32. 32. Analytical Methodology Plaintiffs • Submitted samples for standard analytical workup at laboratory that does not have experience with dust analysis Defendants • Used newest method which provides more accurate and precise quantitation 4500 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Barium Ind. Guideline - Non-Barite Site Ag/Nat Guideline - Non-Barite Site Lab A Lab B Lab C www.chemistry-matters.com 32
  33. 33. % Recoveries Told the Story Minimum and Maximum PAH Standard Recoveries 900 700 500 300 100 Recovery (%) PLAINTIFF DATA Soil Attic Dust House Dust 146% 965% 138% 65% 44% EPA Maximum Recovery 150% EPA 0% Minimum Recovery 25% www.chemistry-matters.com 33
  34. 34. What About QA-QC Samples? • Do you need trip and/or field blanks? – Submit as blind samples • Do you need a duplicate? – Submit as a blind duplicate • Do you need to understand analytical variability? – Lab duplicate, injection duplicate? • Do you need to prove accuracy? – Reference materials (certified or secondary) www.chemistry-matters.com 34
  35. 35. Data Validation Terminology To help minimize ambiguity and increase consistency, USEPA has put forth the following terminology regarding data verification and validation: Stage 1 Validation • Completeness check and compliance of sample receipt conditions Stage 2A Validation • Stage 1 + sample related QA-QC checks Stage 2B Validation • Stage 2A + instrument QA-QC checks Stage 3 Validation • Stage 2B + recalculation checks Stage 4 Validation • Stage 3 + review of actual instrument outputs Guidance for Labeling Externally Validated Laboratory Analytical Data for Superfund Use, USEPA, 2009. www.chemistry-matters.com 35
  36. 36. Responsibility of Legal Sampling • Samples should be collected, handled, packaged, and tested in accordance with a checklist of procedures contained in a sampling plan – Part of a QAPP • You may be required to identify the sample collected and to explain the sampling procedures that were followed. • Mistakes or deficiencies in procedures may damage the evidence/data presented. • If a mistake in procedure has been made: – the mistake should be recorded and a fresh start at sampling should be initiated • If a mistake has occurred, under no circumstances should you attempt to cover up the mistake or continue with your sampling procedures in the hope that the mistake will not be noticed. www.chemistry-matters.com 36
  37. 37. Investigation Road Map Field Event Data Quality -How to control? -Why check? Sampling Design Reporting DQOs QAPP -3rd Party review -implications of data quality www.chemistry-matters.com 37
  38. 38. Questions? More Information: www.chemistry-matters.com Twitter: Chem_Matters csandau@chemistry-matters.com www.chemistry-matters.com 38