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Internal Quality Assurance Requirements for the Analysis of Dioxins in Environmental Samples

Section 2: Sample Handling and Custody

2.1 Containers and Sample Size

Sample Bottles
Sample bottles should be amber glass and have a Teflon-lined lid. Cleaned bottles should be screened for possible contamination before use. (Pre-cleaned and certified sample bottles for dioxin analysis are also commercially available. However, the user should ensure that levels of certification are suitable for levels of analysis.)

Solid Samples
Solid samples should be collected in wide-mouth bottles. Care should be taken to exclude as much water as possible. Biota such as fish, clams etc. should be wrapped in cleaned aluminum foil and frozen.

Liquid Samples
Liquid samples should be collected in narrow-mouth bottles. The level of the liquid sample in the bottle should be clearly marked just after collection to allow for assessment of possible sample loss during shipment.

When taking either solid or liquid samples, enough sample should be taken to allow for re-analysis, if necessary.

2.2 Shipping

  1. Each sample must be clearly identified and securely labelled,

  2. Samples (except tissue) must be maintained at 1 to 5°C in the dark from time of collection until extraction. Tissue samples should be kept frozen during shipment.

  3. Samples should be forwarded to the lab without unnecessary delay and the lab should be informed of the shipping waybill number and the anticipated time of arrival.

  4. A sample submission and chain of custody record sheet should accompany the samples. As a minimum, this form should include information identifying the project; the name, signature, and telephone and Fax number of the sample collector; the sample identification number, sample description or matrix; the date, time, and place of sampling; the analytical requirements and expected concentration; the name of the intended receiver; the storage conditions during shipment; the date and time of sample receipt; and the signature of the receiver. (See Figure 5 for a sample of the submission/custody sheet.)

2.3 Receiving

  1. All information on submission sheets should be verified and completed immediately upon receipt. The chain of custody portion of the form (see Figure 5) must be updated at this time. Any discrepancies, such as missing sheets, missing samples, mislabelled samples, damaged containers and/or samples, should be noted and reported to the client immediately.

  2. Each sample should immediately be labelled with a unique assigned lab code cross-referenced to the identifying field code. This code, plus a brief description of the sample, should be entered into the lab's sample log book and/or computer.

  3. Samples (except tissue) and sample extracts should be stored in a refrigerator at 1 to 5°C. Tissue samples should be stored in a freezer at -20°C.
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