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EPA-NEW ENGLAND ISSUES NEW IMMUNOASSAY GUIDELINES

Release Date: 12/03/1996
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

BOSTON -- In response to a growing number of immunoassay kits being used for environmental field testing, the New England Office of the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new set of guidelines that will lead to regulatory acceptance of this emerging technology.

The document attempts to place safeguards around the technology by creating an awareness of the science behind immunoassay testing and its proper use, and by establishing a philosophy of data quality that works with the goals of each project.

Immunoassay field testing of contaminated soils has proven to save time and money for planners and chemists, many of whom traditionally sent soil samples to laboratories for analysis.

Many of the most commonly used pesticides, insecticides and herbicides can now be analyzed using immunoassay kits. In addition, the technology can also be applied to the analysis of environmental contaminants, such as the petroleum hydrocarbons found in fuel oil spills, PCBs originating from electrical transformer fluids, and explosives found at old munitions sites.

The document offers guidance on the concepts and processes of:

    • Project planning with environmental immunoassay technology.
    • Immunoassay selectivity, and the concept of reactivity versus cross-reactivity,
    • Immunoassay sensitivity to various chemicals,
    • Key quality control elements necessary to ensure quality analysis,
    • Laboratory confirmation analysis as part of a quality assurance program, and,
    • Comparing and using project data that is generated using the technology.
The document also addresses practical immunoassay kit concerns, such as:
    • What types of kits area available on the market today,
    • What are the sampling costs and analysis time considerations,
    • How to choose an immunoassay kit for a specific project use, and
    • What to look out for when using immunoassay kits.
For more information on the guidelines, contact Nancy Barmakian at (617)860-4684.