Test Methods

SGS performs a diverse array of analytical methods which are selected based on regulatory program specifications dictated by the client. SGS draws on promulgated regulatory methods and guidance methods developed by the USEPA and State regulatory agencies. SGS also employs custom methods developed internally or developed by the client for unique determinations.

Prior to using any method, SGS performs a rigorous method evaluation which is submitted to State regulatory agencies to support accreditation of the method. The evaluation includes a sensitivity demonstration to establish the limit of detection or method detection limit, a demonstration of capability establishing the competency of the laboratory technicians to use the method and a proficiency test that supports the laboratory’s ability to successfully generate acceptable data on a blind test sample.

Upon receipt of the State accreditation, SGS becomes qualified to submit data for regulatory purposes in that State. Quality control data from the application of each method is compiled and statistically processed to develop a performance specification used to evaluate method control.


Water analysis is performed for three Federal regulatory programs and their corresponding State programs. This includes testing under the Clean Water Act, which employs methods that are specific for pre and post treatment waste waters and surface waters, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which employs methods that are specific to groundwater and the Safe Drinking Water Act, which employs methods that are specific to drinking water.

Soil, Solids & Sediments

Solids analysis for regulatory programs is performed using the USEPA methods compendium SW-846, which generally fall under State programs derived from the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA is the only methods compendium that accommodates the analysis of solid matrices and is generally used to assess damage to natural resources (groundwater & soil) and characterize wastes prior to disposal. The USEPA encourages individual users to modify SW-846 analysis to accommodate the specific situation being addressed.

Ambient Air, Indoor Air & Soil Vapor

Air analysis for volatile components is performed using methods from the USEPA Air Toxics Method Compendium. Method selection is specific to State programs which are geared towards reducing the exposure of the general public to hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These programs focus on ambient and indoor air quality testing. They can also be applied to soil gas analysis, which is used as a less expensive indicator of underlying volatile organic groundwater and soil contamination.

Waste Characterization

Waste characterization is performed for industrial wastes to determine if the waste is classified as hazardous for disposal purposes. This analysis is conducted using USEPA SW-846 methods which are specific for characterization. Individual waste disposal firms have also developed company specific criteria for compounds and compound groups for waste characterization which may also be determined using SW-846 methods.

Specialty Analysis

SGS has the capability of performing specialty analysis for compounds of client specific concern or compounds that have drawn recent attention such as Emerging Contaminants. Specialty analysis includes the determination of a wide range of Explosives and Energetics using USEPA SW-846 Methods. Emerging contaminants may be determined using existing regulatory methods or by custom methods developed by SGS.