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United States Environmental Sciences Division March 1999

Environmental Protection P.O. Box 93478

Agency Las Vegas, NV 89193-3478

Sampling Using the
Theories of Pierre
Introduction The Environmental Sciences particular challenge to field site and data that more truly
Division (ESD) of the National personnel who are responsible for represent the sample.
Exposure Research Laboratory is sampling hazardous waste sites.
interested in the optimization of This heterogeneity is also a factor True and complete homogeneity
sampling protocol, sampling tools, that must be addressed by is a meter of scale and is
subsampling techniques, and statisticians, geostatisticians, and impossible to achieve for
sample analysis. The importance chemometricians as they develop particulates because many
of obtaining representative sampling plans for the location factors, including gravity, work
samples in the field and retaining and frequency of sampling. It against it. But the extent of
their integrity throughout the affects the manner in which heterogeneity and its effect on
analytical procedures is analytical chemists subsample in environmental sampling can be
fundamental to the generation of the laboratory. Finally, minimized. Established methods
meaningful data. Because heterogeneity influences the from the mining industry are
sampling correctness and interpretation of data and the applicable to the sampling of
representativeness is critical to decisions made about the actions soils. The work of George
the collection and handling of taken to remediate contamination Matheron, father of geostatistics,
environmental samples, the ESD at a site. The theories of Pierre and Pierre Gy, sampling expert,
has hosted short courses Gy present practical sampling and can provide useful insights for
presented by Francis Pitard to subsampling methods that can be environmental scientists who are
explain and enforce the theories applied for little or no added faced with sampling a complex
of Pierre Gy relating to the expense. Careful attention to matrix for trace contaminants.
sampling practice of particulate these techniques can result in
solids. The inherent samples that better represent the
heterogeneity of soils presents a

Types of Error Pierre Gy’s theory addresses Grouping and Segregation Increment Delimitation Error:
seven types of sampling error and Error: Error due to non-random Error tied to inappropriate
offers proven techniques for their distribution of particles, usually by sampling design and the wrong
minimization. The seven major gravity. It can be minimized by choice of equipment.
categories of sampling error cover compositing an analytical sample
differences within samples. Other from many randomly selected Increment Extraction Error:
differences can exist, such as, increments or by properly This error occurs when the
within space (covered by homogenizing and splitting the sampling procedure fails to
geostatistics) and within time sample. precisely extract the intended
(covered by chronostatistics). increment. Well-designed
The internal sample errors are: Long-range Heterogeneity sampling equipment and good
Error: This is fluctuating and protocols are crucial.
Fundamental Error: This is loss non-random. It is spatial and may
of precision inherent in the be identified by variographic Preparation Error: This error is
sample due to chemical and experiments and can be reduced the expression of loss, con-
physical composition and includes by taking many increments to tamination, and alteration of a
particle size distribution. It can be form the sample. sample or subsample. Field and
reduced by decreasing the laboratory techniques exist to
diameter of the largest particles or Periodic Heterogeneity Error: address this problem.
by increasing the sample mass. This fluctuation error is temporal
or spatial in character and can be
minimized by compositing
samples correctly.
197CMB98.FS-14 Š Rev. 4/26/99
To truly represent a lot (or a minimize the error that is intro- generated from the preferentially
hazardous waste site) a sample duced in that sample-taking and in sampled material will never truly
must be both accurate and the subsequent handling, reflect the character of the site.
precise. Obviously, 100% subsampling, and preparation. If
accuracy and precision cannot be large-scale heterogeneity is
obtained. It is important to ignored in a sampling design, data
Devices Correct sampling devices are preferential sampling of coarse subsampled using a system of
essential to good sampling particles. Additional care must be exhaustive alternate shovelling
protocol and to good laboratory taken at the analytical laboratory, wherein a large sample is “dealt
practice. Pierre Gy recommends where error can be introduced by out” into several smaller piles.
scoops and spatulas that are flat, poorly designed riffle splitters, One of these subsamples is
not spoon-shaped, and have spatulas, and vibrating tools. It is chosen for the analysis. This
parallel sides, to avoid the recommended that the sample be method avoids preferential

Summary Methods developed for the mining applicable to some sampling Pierre Gy will result in samples
industry can provide events at hazardous waste sites that better represent the site and
environmental scientists with and to the successful higher quality data for little or no
guidance for the correct sampling subsampling of those samples at added expense.
and subsampling of soils. The the analytical laboratory. Careful
sampling theories of Pierre Gy are use of practices suggested by

References Pitard, F. F., Pierre Gy’s Sampling Theory and Sampling Practice, 2 Volumes, CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton,
Florida. 1989.

For Further For more information about the application of Pierre Center at the ESD, contact:
Information Gy’s theories to environmental sampling, contact:
Mr. J. Gareth Pearson, Director
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Support Center
National Exposure Research Laboratory U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Sciences Division National Exposure Research Laboratory
P.O. Box 93478 Environmental Sciences Division
Las Vegas, NV 89193-3478 P.O. Box 93478
Las Vegas, NV 89193-3478
John Nocerino
Phone: (702) 798-2270
Fax: (702) 798-3146
Phone: (702) 798-2110

Evan Englund
Phone: (702) 798-2248

Brian Schumacher
(Soil Chemistry)
Phone: (702) 798-2242
For information about the Technology Support

The Technology Support Center fact sheet series is developed and written by Clare L. Gerlach, Lockheed
Martin, Las Vegas.