Characterization and Monitoring Technologies for Cleaning Up Contaminated Sites

Vendor Information
EPA created the REACH IT System to compile and share information on treatment and characterization technologies for a range of contaminant types and media. After being launched in 1999 as a replacement for the VISITT, Vendor FACTS, and ITT databases, REACH IT was populated over time with information on over 500 remediation technologies and 260 characterization technologies. With the evolution of on-line search services and engines and the development of a range of other resources on technologies and vendors coupled with resource limitations, EPA discontinued the on-line REACH IT System in 2006. Limited technology vendor information from the EPA REACH IT System has been preserved on this website through a searchable Vendor Directory that is updated quarterly.

Technology Vendors are encouraged to use the CLU-IN Vendor and Developer Support area as a resource for other methods to promote their tools. You can Search and Update the Vendor Directory Exit. Please visit the CLU-IN Vendor and Developer Support Area Exit.

Field Sampling and Analysis Technologies Matrix and Reference Guide
This document was prepared for the U.S. Navy and the EPA. It provides comparative screening information on analytical and sampling technologies. The goal of the matrix is to ensure that project managers and site stakeholders are aware of the full-range of technology options available to them to assess and characterize contamination at their sites. View the Sampling and Analysis Matrix.

Selecting an Innovative Characterization or Monitoring Technology

Tools to assist in selecting an innovative characterization or monitoring technology
Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) Site Characterization, Monitoring, and Process Optimization

The Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is the Department of Defense's (DoD) environmental science and technology development program, planned and executed in full partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and EPA, with participation by numerous other federal and non-federal organizations. Many of SERDP's projects support improvements in investigating and cleaning up contaminated sites. The Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) is SERDP's sister program, which supports demonstration and validation of innovative, cost-effective environmental technologies. For more information, please visit SERDP ESTCP Site Characterization, Monitoring, and Process Optimization Resources Exit.

Direct-Push Monitoring Wells
Direct-push installed monitoring wells of small diameter consist of steel pipe with a vertically slotted screened section and a drive point that is vibrated into unconsolidated soils using a small, portable rig. Rapid installation is possible to depths of more than 100 feet, with no soil cuttings that require disposal. Groundwater samples can be obtained immediately after well installation using inertial bailers and small-diameter tubing. Little purge water is generated because of the small well diameter. Analysis of samples with field instruments yields data that are immediately available to guide further field installations. These documents compare monitoring data obtained from ground water samples taken from both direct-push and conventional auger-drilled wells.

EPA's Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) Program, Site Characterization and Monitoring Technologies (SCMT) within the Advanced Monitoring Systems Center
The EPA ETV program seeks to provide credible information about the performance of environmental technologies from disinterested third parties under the auspices of EPA. The Site Characterization and Monitoring Technologies Pilot functions within the Advanced Monitoring Systems Center of ETV to evaluate technologies that can be used to characterize the environment. Third-party verification organizations design and perform simulated field demonstrations and prepare reports on each technology accompanied by verification statements.

Passive Diffusion Bag Samplers (PDB) for Monitoring VOCs in Wells
Diffusion sampler methods can save from $275-$600 per sample in labor costs. The United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Air Force, and the ITRC (an interstate cooperation work group) partnered to prepare a report summarizing the proper use of diffusion samplers in wells. A second report presents six case studies where the PDB samplers were tested under field conditions. Both reports can be obtained electronically. Hard copies can also be purchased from the USGS by calling 888-ASK-USGS.

Cal/EPA Certification of the HAPSITE Portable GC-MS
California EPA's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has certified the analytical capabilities of the HAPSITE® portable gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) system as a field-based analytical method as well as a laboratory instrument for measuring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in water, soil and soil gas. This 2004 certification report evaluates the performance of the HAPSITE® instrument based on a detailed review of data packages submitted by the technology proponent, of field data generated by independent parties, and of new data collected under the oversight of the DTSC. View the Cal/EPA Certification of the HAPSITE Portable GC-MS Report  Exit.

Field Analytical and Site Characterization Technologies
This report provides experiences in the use of field analytical and site characterization technologies at contaminated sites drawn from 204 technology applications. Information is presented on the reported uses of each technology; including the types of pollutants and media for which the technology was used; reported advantages and limitations of the technology; and cost data for the technology, when available. Information was obtained from federal and state site managers and from the Vendor Field Analytical and Characterization Technologies System (Vendor FACTS) database.

Report Evaluating an Enhanced Direct Push (EAPS) System
DOE funded the development of a direct push (DP) system able to drill through refusal points. This 2004 report describes an evaluation study of the Enhanced Access Penetration System (EAPS) which extends cone penetrometer penetration depth. EAPS consists of four major components: (1) a Wireline CPT/Gas sampling probe and wireline soil and groundwater sampling system, (2) a small diameter air rotary drilling system, (3) environmental sensors that are used to detect and characterize contamination in both real and near-real time, and (4) an integral drill spoils collection and filtration system.

Comparison of Pumped and Diffusion Sampling Methods to Monitor Concentrations of Perchlorate and Explosive Compounds in Ground Water, Camp Edwards, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2004-05
Comparison of the concentrations of perchlorate, RDX, and HMX in diffusion samplers placed in wells against concentrations in samples collected by low-flow pumped sampling indicates generally good agreement between the pumped and diffusion samples for concentrations of the subject contaminants. The concentration differences indicate no systematic bias related to contaminant type or concentration level. The USGS provides more information in this report.

A Review of Emerging Sensor Technologies for Facilitating Long-Term Ground Water Monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds
This EPA report summarizes the status of emerging sensor technologies for facilitating long-term ground water monitoring for a class of contaminants called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It also describes a number of factors, including regulatory acceptance and cost-effectiveness, that influence the applicability of these technologies. The focus is on long-term ground water monitoring that is generally associated with a selected remedy, such as monitored natural attenuation or pump and treat. A Review of Emerging Sensor Technologies for Facilitating Long-Term Ground Water Monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds (PDF) (61pp, 594K, About PDF) Exit.

Guidance on the Use of Passive-Vapor-Diffusion Samplers to Detect Volatile Organic Compounds in Ground-Water-Discharge Areas, and Example Applications in New England
Polyethylene-membrane passive-vapor-diffusion samplers, or PVD samplers, have been shown to be an effective and economical reconnaissance tool for detecting and identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in bottom sediments of surface-water bodies in areas of ground-water discharge. Examples of applications at nine hazardous-waste sites in New England demonstrate the utility of PVD samplers in a variety of hydrologic settings, including rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, and coastal shorelines. Results of PVD sampling at these sites have confirmed the presence and refined the extent of VOC-contaminated ground-water-discharge areas where contaminated ground water is known, and identified areas of VOC-contaminated ground-water discharge where ground-water contamination was previously unknown. The principal VOCs detected were chlorinated and petroleum hydrocarbons. Vapor concentrations in samplers range from not detected to more than 1,000,000 parts per billion by volume. These results provided insights about contaminant distributions and ground-water-flow patterns in discharge areas, and have guided the design of focused characterization activities. For more information, please visit (PDF) (90pp, 9.2MB, About PDF).

California Environmental Technology Certification Program
Cal/EPA's certification program is a voluntary program that provides participating technology developers, manufacturers, and vendors an independent, recognized third-party evaluation of the performance of new and mature environmental technologies. Developers and manufacturers define quantitative performance claims for their technologies and provide supporting documentation; Cal/EPA reviews that information and, where necessary, conducts additional testing to verify the claims. The technologies, equipment, and products that are proven to work as claimed receive official state certification. The certification program is voluntary and self-supporting. Companies participating in the program pay the costs of evaluating and certifying their technologies. Visit the Technology Certification Program for more information.

Methods Information and SOPs

Resources for specific methods and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to characterize and monitor contaminated sites

DNAPL Characterization Methods and Approaches
Contamination from the use of chlorinated solvents, often classified as dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) when in an undissolved state, represents an environmental challenge with global implications. The identification of DNAPL source zones located beneath the water table is critical to ultimately achieve site remediation and aquifer restoration. These papers from Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation provide a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of many of the methods being used for detecting and delineating DNAPL contaminant source zones and compare the costs for implementing various characterization approaches using synthetic unit model scenarios. The objective is to determine which options are best to pursue based on site characteristics, method performance, and method costs. The findings can be used to assist with selection of appropriate site remediation management options.


Methods Innovation Rule and SW-846 Final Update IIIB
EPA ammended a variety of testing and monitoring requirements in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous and nonhazardous solid waste regulations and for certain Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations that relate to hazardous waste combustors. These amendments allow more flexibility when conducting RCRA-related sampling and analysis by removing from the regulations a requirement to use the methods found in "Test Methods for Evaluating Solid Waste, Physical/Chemical Methods," also known as "SW-846," in conducting various testing and monitoring and by limiting required uses of an SW-846 method to circumstances where the method is the only one capable of measuring the particular property (i.e., the method is used to measure a required method-defined parameter).

EPA Environmental Response Team Center
The Environmental Response Team (ERT) offers an array of products to assist other environmental practitioners both in the field and in the office. They offer immediate download of items such as software packages, guidance related to a wide variety of environmental sampling procedures, analytical and quality assurance standard operating procedures (SOPs), fact sheets, and bulletins. Learn more about ERT software Exit

A Guide for Assessing Biodegradation and Source Identification of Organic Groundwater Contaminants Using Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA)
When organic contaminants are degraded in the environment, the ratio of stable isotopes will often change, and the extent of degradation can be recognized and predicted from the change in the ratio of stable isotopes. Recent advances in analytical chemistry make it possible to perform Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA) on dissolved organic contaminants such as chlorinated solvents, aromatic petroleum hydrocarbons, and fuel oxygenates, at concentrations in water that are near their regulatory standards. The traditional approach for monitoring of concentrations of contaminants at sites often does not offer adequate information about the processes that are responsible for removal of the contaminants. Stable isotope analyses can provide an in-depth understanding of biodegradation or abiotic transformation processes in contaminated aquifers.

Because CSIA is a new approach, there are no widely accepted standards for accuracy, precision and sensitivity, and no established approaches to document accuracy, precision, sensitivity and representativeness. This guide provides general recommendations on good practice for sampling, for measurement, for data evaluation and for interpretation in CSIA.

A Guide for Assessing Biodegradation and Source Identification of Organic Groundwater Contaminants Using Compound Specific Isotope Analysis (CSIA)

Solid Waste Test Methods (SW-846) plus (on CD-ROM)

The SW-846 plus contains the Third Edition SW-846 base manual plus Updates I, II, IIA, IIB, and III. The SW-846 contains test procedures recommended for use in conducting the evaluations and measurements needed to comply with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These methods are approved by EPA for obtaining data to satisfy the requirements of 40 CFR, Parts 122 through 270, promulgated under RCRA, as amended. SW-846 provides procedures for field and laboratory quality control, sampling, determining hazardous constituents in wastes, determining the hazardous characteristics of wastes (toxicity, ignitability, reactivity, and corrosivity), and determining physical properties of wastes. It also contains guidance on how to select appropriate methods. For more information, please visit

Superfund Analytical Services/Contract Laboratory Program (CLP) Analytical Methods
The analytical methods section of the CLP web site contains information about statements of work (SOWs) under which CLP samples may be analyzed. It provides information about analytical methods available from the CLP on inorganics, organics and low concentration, and non-routine analyses. View statements of work and other information.


Documents on Characterization and Monitoring Technologies

Browse or search our documents on characterization and monitoring technologies. Many documents may also be ordered online at no cost.


Hazardous Waste Clean-Up Information

A wealth of information is available on characterization, monitoring, and remediation technologies. EPA developed the Hazardous Waste Clean-Up Information (CLU-IN) website to provide useful and comprehensive information about innovative treatment and site characterization technologies and to serve as a forum for the hazardous waste remediation community. Visit CLU-IN Exitfor more information.