The chain of custody (COC) is a vital document necessary to ensure the successful completion of sample analysis and handled with enough care and detail that it can stand up to the scrutiny of any legal or government authority. Most of the requested information needed on your COC is pretty apparent, but there are essential details that are sometimes overlooked and not conveyed to the lab. Missing these details can potentially delay the preparation or even the ability of the lab to accept the sample and subsequently delay the issuing of the final analytical report.

Below are a few tips often overlooked when completing a COC to help ensure a successful sample exchange with your lab.

Chain of Custody Do’s

  • DO include your facility or source name, project reference number, and site location. This information aids greatly in compiling data and accessing previous reports for annual and or repeating projects.
  • DO use the best practice of recording sample volumes on your COC. Volumes are measured on all liquid samples by the laboratory and cross-checked with the COC. This record lets us know if any sample volume was lost during transit.
  • DO be sure to record the date and time when relinquishing and receiving samples. You must record this each and every time perfectly in line to ensure the integrity of the samples and that the chain of custody is never broken.

Chain of Custody Don’ts

  • DON’T cover up mistakes with white out or black marker. Errors and typos can happen, and when they do, the best practice is to mark through the mistake with a single strikethrough, make the correction, initial, and date.
  • DON’T hesitate to contact your project manager or lab if you have any questions or concerns about completing a COC.

Need a COC form to include with your sample? Download one here or contact us.

David Myers

Project Manager

Dave is a project manager for the Durham, NC laboratory. He has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a focus in Environmental Chemistry from North Carolina State University. He has been with Enthalpy Analytical for 4 years and worked as a project manager the last 3 years. Dave primarily works with environmental clients with stack samples but also assists with Method 325B Fenceline Monitoring Programs.


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