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Ten Problems Observed During Routine Third-Party Data Validation

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10 Problems Observed During Routine Environmental Third-Party Data Validation

Many environmental professionals have wrestled with the question “why should my project data be subjected to third-party independent data validation when the task is not specifically required by a regulator? The answer is quite simple: project data drive remediation and remediation costs. At the fundamental level, it is critical that decisions are made utilizing data that are qualitatively and quantitatively verified to be correct. Reporting errors are common from even the most experienced and accredited laboratories. Below are 10 problems routinely observed during recent third-party validation. Many of our industrial and engineering clients are surprised, then relieved, that these problems were identified and corrected early on in the process saving time, money, and frustration.

1.  Issue: Incorrect identification of compounds of concern.

Resolution: Critical review of sample chromatogram mass spectra identified the correct compounds present in samples.

chromatogram useful to identify issues during third party data validation

2.  Issue: False negative result reported that was detected, but not reported by the laboratory analyst.

Resolution: Laboratory corrected the data to include the additional detected compounds.

3.  Issue: Rejected sample results due specifically to inappropriate field preservation.

Resolution: Resampling performed and paid for by the sampling consultant.

4.  Issue: Laboratory storage holding blank data revealed background levels of contaminants resulting in the low-level detections of the same compounds in many project samples.

Resolution: Laboratory root cause analysis determined the cause and those compounds reported in samples were negated during data validation.

5.  Issue: Sample interferences observed resulting in negative values reported for project samples.

Resolution: Laboratory requested to reanalyze samples (within holding times) using alternate techniques.

6.  Issue: Non-target hydrocarbon compounds with interfering masses and overlapping with compounds of concern resulting in false positive results reported for compounds of concern.

Resolution: Laboratory requested to requantitate samples using alternate mass ions.

7.  Issue: Rejected sample results due to exceeded holding times.

Resolution: Resampling paid for by the laboratory.

8.  Issue: Potential blank qualification of low level positive sample results due to sample results being reported to lower reporting limits than the associated laboratory method blanks.

Resolution: Laboratory requested to revise results to report sample and blank results to the same reporting limits.

9.  Issue: Potential false positives reported in project samples due to poor qualitative identification of compounds of concern.

Resolution: Laboratory agreed and raised the reporting limits to above the level of the questionable low-level results. The increased reporting limits were still well below the level required by the regulatory agency.

10.  Issue: High level positive results reported for lead were determined to be caused by fabricated metallic weights that were used during sample collection of a sensitive surface water body.

Resolution: Resampling performed using new weights constructed from an inert solid.

Independent environmental data validation can find and resolve data issues early on in the project, saving clients time and money during the investigation and remediation process.