Data Validation Practices and Risk Assessment

by V. Balasundaram, Engr.; Quality Programs Div., Ebasco Services, Inc., Lyndhurst, NJ,
N. Shashidhara, (M.ASCE), Supervisor; Quality Programs Div., Ebasco Services, Inc., Lyndhurst, NJ,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 3, Pg. 60-61

Document Type: Feature article


The accuracy of environmental site assessments depends on the validity of the data used to make them, but all too often, the people who judge the quality of the data have little idea of its proper relationship to the site. This separation, while it preserves the anonymity of the site and its owner, deprives the validators of important contextual information that could help them determine whether the data they examine is usable or not. In many cases, the methods used to collect samples, and the location from which they were taken have a strong impact on their use as an indicator for the site. And data marked as estimated is often used as fully validated data, increasing the chances that a report could incorrectly label a site hazardous or clean. In addition, validators frequently find that they must use different sets of rules to determine whether data is valid, depending on whether they are reporting to a state or federal agencies. This inconsistency is only compounded by the lack of definite regulations for data regarding many heavy metal and rare earth element contaminants. With revisions to EPA's regulations ongoing, now is an optimum time to standardize the data validation process.

Subject Headings: Validation | Risk management | Site investigation | Occupational safety | Environmental issues | Quality control | Owners | Federal government

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