M.D. Erickson

Environmental Research Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439


The practical application of chemical analyses begins with a request for the analysis and concludes with provision of the requested analytical data. The key to successful execution of this activity is timely, professional communication between the requester and the analyst. Often chemical analyses are not satisfactorily executed, either because the requester failed to give adequate instructions or because the analyst simply "did what he or she was told." This article addresses the pitfalls of this interaction and provides suggestions for improving the quality of the analytical product through the requester-analyst interface. The request for and conduct of an analysis represents a contract for the procurement of a product (information about the sample); if both parties recognize and abide by this contractual relationship, the process generally proceeds smoothly. Note that the "customer" and "analyst" may be the same person, especially in a university research environment; these same issues hold even in this single-person interaction.

Chemical analysis is traditionally defined as the determination of what is in the sample and how much of that constituent. More rigorously, we also need to know if the analysis was conducted correctly, and we need documentation—in short, quality control. Before launching into a chemical analysis, it is important to establish the data quality objectives: what are we looking for, and how much error can we tolerate?

This presentation provides a practical tutorial on how to get chemical analyses done properly and cost-effectively. Suggestions for improving the quality of the analytical product through the requester-analyst interface are provided.


analytical, chemical analysis, procurement, management

The submitted manuscript has been authored by a contractor of the U.S. Government under contract No. W-31-109-ENG-38. Accordingly, the U.S. Government retains a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to publish or reproduce the published form of this contribution, or allow others to do so, for U.S. Government purposes.

This paper is from the Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on Hazardous Waste Research 1995, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.

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