For many years, stream samples for analysis of volatile organic compounds have been collected without specific guidelines or a sampler designed to avoid analyte loss. In 1996, the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment Program began aggressively monitoring urban stream-water for volatile organic compounds. To assure representative samples and consistency in collection procedures, a specific sampler was designed to collect samples for analysis of volatile organic compounds in stream water. This sampler, and the collection procedures, were tested in the laboratory and in the field for compound loss, contamination, sample reproducibility, and functional capabilities. This report describes that sampler and its use, and outlines field procedures specifically designed to provide contaminant-free, reproducible volatile organic compound data from stream-water samples.
These guidelines and the equipment described represent a significant change in U.S. Geological Survey instructions for collecting and processing stream-water samples for analysis of volatile organic compounds. They are intended to produce data that are both defensible and interpretable, particularly for concentrations below the microgram-per-liter level. The guidelines also contain detailed recommendations for quality-control samples.