Sampling Bags for Metals and Inorganic Parameters in Ontario
Mar. 23 2017
Historically in Ontario, plastic bags could only be used for testing grain size or simpler inorganics, such as pH in soil. Bureau Veritas has successfully petitioned the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to permit the use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene (PP) plastic bags for collecting soil and sediment samples to test for the following parameters:
- Electrical Conductivity (EC)
- Free Cyanide
- Hexavalent Chromium (protect from light)
- Metals (including Hydride-forming Metals, Hot Water Soluble Boron and Mercury)
- Nitrite / Nitrate
- pH, grain size and moisture content
- Sodium Adsorption Ratio (SAR)
- Total Chromium
- Total Nitrogen
Currently, Ontario Regulation 153/04  specifies that soil and sediment samples for inorganic parameters and metals must be collected in glass or HDPE containers. In 2016, CCME published Volume 4 of the Guidance Manual for Environmental Site Characterization in Support of Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment , which allows for use of PET and PP bags for collecting samples for physical parameters and stable inorganic analytes such as chloride and pH.
Using Plastic Bags for Environmental Sampling
On March 22, 2017, Bureau Veritas received final approval from the MOECC for the use of PET and PP plastic bags for collecting soil and sediment samples for the parameters in the above list under Ontario Regulation 153/04. In support of our petition, Bureau Veritas compared the data from analysis of soil samples collected in PET bags with soil samples collected in glass jars. Subsamples from the two container types were tested at set intervals (0, 1, 2, 3, 14, and 28 days). Statistical analysis of the results showed the use of PET bags for sample collection did not introduce bias to the data.
Note that unlike glass jars which are regularly tested for contaminants, PET and PP bags cannot be routinely proofed.
Bureau Veritas’ clear, sealable PET sample collection bags are suitable for collecting soil and sediment samples for the above parameters. Care must be taken to protect samples from exposure to light for light-sensitive tests, such as hexavalent chromium. The sample collection bags do not need to be filled to capacity provided sufficient sample is collected for the required tests as directed in Ontario Regulation 153/04.
Sampling bags should not be used for collecting samples for organic parameters (i.e., volatile organic compounds or petroleum hydrocarbons).
Bureau Veritas’ sealable PET sample collection bags offer the following advantages:
- Strong, inert, lightweight plastic
- Large, flat, easy-to-write-on surfaces
- Compact size relative to glass and HDPE containers
- Ease of use for sample collection
- Easier, safer packing of coolers
- Reduced field technician time
- Lower transportation costs
- Reduced health and safety hazards from broken glass and exposure to samples
- Reduced potential for sample loss during handling and transportation
- Stability at temperatures from below freezing to above 80°C
- Recycling code 1 (Bureau Veritas’ PET sample collection bags are completely recyclable.)
 Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) Protocol for Analytical Methods Used in the Assessment of Properties under Part XV.1 of the Environmental Protection Act, O. Reg. 153/04, March 9, 2004, amended as of July 1, 2011
 Canadian Council of Minister of the Environment (CCME) 2016, Guidance Manual for Environmental Site Characterization in Support of Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment, Volume 4 Analytical Methods, ISBN 978-1-77202-032-8 PDF