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Sampling Procedures


sampling of blue-green algaeWhat are the state sampling procedures?

The procedures listed are excerpted from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to collect aqueous or cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) samples for toxin analyses, algal cell enumeration and identification, or biomass estimates. Field staff should read carefully the entire SOP before collecting samples.

  1. Equipment and Supplies: Sample Containers

    1. Have clean, proper containers with no defects for samples. Only amber glass bottles should be used to collect aqueous samples for cyanobacteria toxin analysis.
    2. Cyanobacteria bloom sampling requires specialized training, safety protocols and personal protective equipment (PPE). Follow safety procedures.
  2. Sample collection procedures

    1. In order to provide consistency between sampling agencies and programs, it is recommended that all samples be collected as grab samples. Collect separate, discrete samples of the water column and of the scum layer. These samples should be analyzed and interpreted separately.
    2. Average the concentrations of the individual grab sample results to determine the average concentration over time or area. Do not average water column and scum sample values together.
  3. Transport and handling of samples

    1. After the samples have been collected and containerized, clean the outside of the containers with water, paper towels or other absorbent materials to remove any spilled sample from the exterior of the container.
    2. Samples need to be shipped to the laboratory in time to meet the prescribed holding time for the analyses being performed. Since there is limited data available to establish appropriate holding times for cyanobacteria toxin analyses, initial holding times may be quite conservative until additional studies are completed. Contact the analytical laboratory to which you are submitting samples for hold time information.
  4. Preservation

    1. Samples for cyanobacteria toxin analysis should immediately be placed in a cooler on wet ice.
    2. Sample containers should be stored in the dark.
  5. Documentation

    1. Label each bottle with an appropriate field identification number.
    2. Complete field documentation and sample custody forms as appropriate, including notation of any relevant observations or problems.
    3. Complete the Cyanobacteria Bloom Response Field Data Sheet.

Last updated: July 14, 2016

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