ELAW Guides to Environmental Sampling

Pollution, Air
Pollution, Water
Resources for advocates

Environmental sampling is key to assess and quantify the presence of pollutants in the environment (water, air, soil). It is fundamental to determine if the concentration of pollutants exceed environmental quality guidelines or standards for the protection of public health and ecosystems.

Today an increasing number of organized citizen groups and participatory monitoring programs are interested in taking environmental samples to reliably analyze them and determine if there are risks to the environment and/or health in their communities. These efforts can demand substantial effort, time, and money. Errors in sampling and handling may completely ruin these efforts, which in turn could affect a community or a civil society organization with limited resources. Therefore, every effort to make a sampling effort effective is crucial to obtain evidence of contamination as reliably as possible and make good use of funds, personnel, and time. While each location has different environmental characteristics, there are some basic procedures, principles, and techniques for collecting and handling samples that are key for the reliability of laboratory analysis.

Often civil society organizations face difficulties in setting priorities and planning effective environmental sampling. Module 1 Basic Concepts for Environmental Sampling provides general concepts and tips to solve basic problems to plan an environmental sampling, define the objectives of a sampling plan, and organize a community to conduct an environmental sampling. Modules 2, 3 and 4 develop the techniques of sampling, handling, and storage of water, air, and soil samples respectively.

Many thanks to the Philip Stoddard Brown & Adele Smith Brown Foundation for making this guidebook possible.