Method Development

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Flexible Measurements

In 1997, the Agency adopted the Performance Based Measurement System (PBMS) (i.e., Federal Register Notice of Intent) to:

  • Reduce the cost of monitoring;
  • Stimulate the development and use of innovative technologies;
  • Speed up the introduction of new methods; and
  • Improve the quality of science in the monitoring community.

Unfortunately, the "one size fits all" approach did not work for the diversely different programs and authority within each Agency office. The guidance document Flexible Approaches to Environmental Measurement, created in 2008 shifted the focus from the performance approach to a more flexible one. Documentation on the Agency’s commitment to this flexible approach is below, in addition to a presentation on the specific steps being taken within each media program.

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Method Validation and Peer Review Policies and Guidelines

All methods of analysis must be validated and peer reviewed prior to being issued. Each EPA office is responsible for ensuring minimum method validation and peer review criteria have been acheived. These documents describe general principles for determining and demonstrating that an analysis method is suitable for its intended purpose (i.e., yields acceptable accuracy for the analyte, matrix and concentration range of concern). 

Method Validation and Peer Review Policies and Guidelines

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Method Detection and Quantitation

A 2009 review of Agency procedures for:

  • method detection limits,
  • method quantitation limits, and 
  • calibration curves

determined a single process did not meet the diverse needs of all programs. The review resulted in the publication of the documents below, which improved communication among programs and enhanced understanding regarding the various procedures each has adopted. An update to the Forum on Environmental Measurements Glossary is planned for FY2018.

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Method Formatting

A standardized method format, developed in the 1990s, has been used by our EPA offices as the template for revising old and writing new methods. This format establishes a consistent framework for all Agency methods. 

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Method Sources and Support

Below are documents used to support method development.

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Updating the Toxic Organic Methods

A webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 1PM EST to discuss the development of an alternative methods process for air toxics. Please join us by logging in as a guest here. Phone line information: 866-299-3188, 587-495-2464#

Webinar Agenda:

  • Background
  • General Process for Updating Toxic Organic (TO) Methods
  • Proposed Method Update Schedule
  • TO-15 Method Update Process
  • How to Submit Comments 
  • Open Chat Discussion: Please type all questions and comments into the Adobe Connect chat box.

The lined version of Method TO-15, the list of EPA's planned revisions to TO-15, the comments form, the webinar slide presentation, and the webinar audio recording are all available here.

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