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Breakdown of the Chain of Custody Form

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A Chain of Custody (COC) form is essential for a successful project. It records the movement of samples from collection to receipt at Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories Environmental, LLC (ELLE), and it serves as the instructions, or order form, for the laboratory. Think back to the last time you went to a restaurant where your meal did not exactly match what you requested. I bet the order form to the kitchen was incorrect! Without a properly filled-out COC, we will have unclear sample information, the analysts won’t know what testing is needed, and ELLE won’t be able to proceed. But, no worries! Let’s review the sections of the Chain of Custody form to ensure your analysis report is exactly what you expected!

The COC is composed of five sections:

  • Client and Project Information
  • Sample Information
  • Analyses Requested Information
  • Turnaround Time (TAT) and Reporting Requests
  • Chain of Custody from Field to Lab

Client and Project Information

The client and project information section is located in the upper left corner of the COC.

Client Information 

Client: the name of the company who will be receiving the invoice

Acct. #: the ELLE account number that corresponds to the client who is receiving the invoice, if known

Project Name/#: This is what your company refers to when discussing the work involved with the samples. Enter what your company prefers to see listed on the analytical report. You may want to include the project number and/or the site address.

PWSID: Public Water System Identification, a 9-digit number. If the samples are NOT for SDWA, skip this block on the COC!

If the sample(s) are compliant Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) samples, the following is needed on the COC:

  • PWSID Number
  • Name of System
  • EPA Sample Type (R, P, E, D, C, S)
  • Location Code (Typically a 3-digit number)

If you are unsure what the above information is, check with your sanitarian before submitting samples. Without this information, ELLE cannot correctly report the data to the state which may result in monitoring violations for your system!

Project Manager: the person at your company overseeing the project

P.O. #: Enter your company’s purchase order for this project. If your company does not have an agreement or contract with ELLE, the purchase order should be sent to your client service representative prior to sample submission so the terms and conditions can be reviewed.

Sampler: the person(s) who collected the samples. Please note the sampler’s name is required on all COCs for compliance samples.

Quote #: Reference the ELLE quote number that appeared on your quote, if known.

State where samples were collected: Indicate which state the samples were collected from, such as PA, NJ, NY, etc.

No one should skip this next section—

For Compliance: Were the samples collected under a consent order or according to a permit? Are they SDWA samples? If the answer is yes to either question, check the YES box. If the answer is no, Check the NO box.

Sample Information

The sample information section is in the middle of the COC, you can’t miss it! Federal and state regulations require documentation of sample name and sampling location, date, and time in order for sample data to be legally defensible.

Sample Information

Sample Identification:
What would you like us to call your samples? This is the spot to write it out. The sample IDs should be unique and will appear on the analytical report.

Collected Date and Time: This is the date and time that samples were collected, and it should match what is listed on the sample bottle label. This information is very important and is needed to meet analysis holding times.

Grab or Composite: Was the sample collected from a single spot at one moment in time? If yes, check “Grab.” Was the sample collected from multiple locations, or was it collected periodically and combined to create one sample? If yes, check “Composite.”

Matrix: What time of sample do you have? Check the box that matches the sample type. If your sample is for a NPDES permit, you can check that box and a sample type if you prefer. If the boxes do not adequately describe the sample box, write it in the space next to “Other.”

Total # of Containers: This section is to document how many sample containers per sample you are submitting. When the samples arrive at ELLE, the unpackers confirm the number of containers we received by comparing their container count to the information entered in this category.

Analysis Requested Information

Now we’re getting to the good stuff! This is the place to record what the analyses the lab is to perform on each sample.

Analyses Requested

Analyses Requested:
Write the name of each analysis (or an abbreviation of it) here and indicate which analyses are to be performed on which samples by checking off the corresponding boxes in each sample row. To save time, ask your Client Service Representative about pre-printing the analyses on your COC when you place your bottle order. Your field samplers will thank you!

Preservation and Filtration Codes: Enter the preservation and/or filtration codes per analysis requested in this section.

Remarks: Any special instructions or notable observations about a particular sample ELLE may need to know from the field? List those here (e.g., hazardous elements, high levels of an analyte). Also indicate which sample is intended for site-specific QC in this section as well, and don’t forget to submit triplicate sample volume.

Turnaround Time (TAT) and Reporting Requests

Turnaround Time Request

Turnaround Time (TAT) Requested:
Circle either “Standard” (10-15 business days) or “Rush”. If you need an expedited TAT, reach out to your client service representative prior to sending in samples so he or she can make arrangements and alert the technical groups to your analysis needs. Including a date results are needed makes it clear when the data is needed and eliminates any confusion.

Reporting Requests: This information request is broken into three areas within this block: email addresses for those who should receive the analytical or level II report; data package options where you circle the type you need; and the EDD needed. If you are unaware of the data package or EDD formats you need, please contact your client service rep. He or she will gladly walk you through this and look up the specific naming that your project needs.

Chain of Custody from Field to Lab

This section of the COC documents who had possession of the samples from collection to receipt at ELLE. The form must be signed each time the samples change hands. Once sampling is completed, the COC will be signed a final time from the field and placed in the cooler. When the samples arrive at the lab, the unpacker will inspect the cooler contents and sign the last “received by” signature block on the form.

Chain of Custody

As you can see, the information gathered in the field prior to sample submission is very important to ensuring that your samples are analyzed correctly. We hope that you have found this information useful. We recognize that it is a team effort to streamline the sample collection and transport process and keep it running smoothly. Eurofins’ thorough understanding of compliance requirements and outstanding regulatory track record ensures our customers that the samples are handled properly and the data will hold up under the most stringent review.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your project manager.