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Sample Collection Kits and
Sample Collection Instructions

Sample Collection Kits andSample Collection Instructions

Samples must be collected in sample kits supplied by the Public Health Environmental Laboratory.  Sample collection instructions are included with all sample collection kits, except routine public water system coliform kits.  Read these instructions before you collect your sample to prevent your sample from being rejected.  Samples not collected properly will be rejected and a replacement kit will be sent to you.

Unpacking Your Sample Collection Kits

When you receive your sample collection kits, take time to carefully unpack your box.  All sample kits, except the routine public water system coliform samples should include:

  • Sampling instructions,
  • One or more sampling containers,
  • One or more sample request forms with barcode labels and a return mailing label attached,
  • Ice packs (depending on the test method), and
  • Plastic ziplock bag for wet ice (depending on the test method), and
  • A return mailing box.

If you are missing one or more of these items or have questions regarding your order, call Customer Service at (402) 471-3935.
Note:  If your kit requires ice to maintain appropriate temperature during shipment, please use wet ice.  Crushed ice does not last as long as larger ice chunks.  Do not use dry ice.  Dry ice can freeze samples causing sample containers to break.

How to Read and Fill Out Your Sample Request Form

Each sample request form that you receive with your sample collection kit(s) will give a Lab number that will start with the letter P.  This P number is unique to your sample.  It will track your sample from kit preparation to result archival.  The sample request form will tell you what the request is for and what method's are to be used.  The reason for the sample request will also be indicated, along with any special comments.  Your account number and/or name will appear on the bottom of each form.  Please check to see that you received the sample request form for the appropriate client.  If the request form(s) is not for your account, call customer service at (402) 471-3935, to report the problem.

All samples submitted for testing must be accompanied with a completed sample request form.  Each request form must include the following information:

  • Type of sample (Chlorinated or non-chlorinated),
  • Name of  person who collected the sample,
  • Date of collection,
  • Time of collection, and
  • POE (Point of Entry) or Location from which the sample was collected.    The location should indicate where the sample was collected, for example kitchen sink, outside east faucet, drinking fountain 4th floor, or John Doe's 122 E 10th.

The EPA requires the calculation of the sample holding time be based on the sample collection date and time supplied on the sample request form.  Samples received without complete information will be rejectedand a replacement sample collection kit will be sent to you.

Sample Identification

  • Each sample must be labeled with at least one barcode label to ensure that the sample can be linked to the appropriate client and request form.  When you receive the sample collection kit(s), a sample request form should be included with each kit.  The request form contains preprinted barcode labels that need to be removed from the request form and attached to the appropriate sample bottle(s).  Every sample collection kit must have at least one barcode affixed to it before it is returned to the laboratory.  Extra care should be taken to label each sample correctly.  If you have more than one kit to collect make sure that the barcode for each kit type is attached to the sample container for the appropriate test.  NOTE:  In some cases, sample instructions ask you to put two barcodes on each sample container.
  • If your sample containers are returned without barcode identification or with the wrong barcode identification, they will be rejected and a replacement sample collection kit will be shipped to you.
  • Do not label two containers from two different tests with the same P# barcode.  This will result in invalidation of both samples due to improper identification.
  • Do not put large address labels on the sample containers.
  • Do not seal sample containers with extra labels.
  • Do not affix extra barcode labels to the styrofoam mailer.

After you have collected your sample(s), make certain you have:

  • Attached the appropriate barcode label(s) to your sample(s),
  • Filled out the request form(s) including DATES and TIME of collection,
  • Included a daytime phone number on your request form.
  • Forgetting any of these items may invalidate your sample(s).

Delivery and Shipping Suggestions

You may drop off samples at the laboratory front desk, located at 3701 South 14th Street, during business hours, 8:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays.  (See the Holiday Schedule).  An after hour drop box for samples is available just north and around the corner of the main laboratory entrance.  Do not leave samples outside the box or front door.  This practice possesses a security risk for lab personnel as well as other clients.  Please note that samples left in the drop box are picked up the next business day, unless special arrangements have been made ahead of time with laboratory staff.  (Call (402) 471-2122, during normal business hours to arrange for special after-hour sample drop off).

Exposure to extreme temperatures may compromise collected samples and the testing results may not accurately reflect the true result.  Avoid leaving samples in places, such as vehicles, postal boxes, and other spaces that could expose a collected sample to extreme temperatures.  Freezing can cause sample containers to break.  High temperature can encourage growth of bacteria, which may degrade organic components in the sample.

Check with your post office to see when mail is routinely scheduled to leave your town for Lincoln delivery.  Collection of the sample in the afternoon may reduce the time in transit.  This will help ensure that your sample(s) meets holding times without missing the out-going mail truck.  Your post office can also recommend the appropriate postage (first-class, priority overnight) for the type of delivery that you may need to ensure that your sample(s) arrives in good condition and within the required time period.

Other delivery services, such as Federal Express, Pony Express, and United Parcel, can be used.  Be sure that delivery will be between normal working hours.    Weekend and holiday delivery must be scheduled with the laboratory prior to delivery company pickup.  (The laboratory will make arrangements for weekend and holiday receipt of samples delivered by delivery companies or clients on an emergency basis only).

Sample Collection Do's and Dont's

  • DO save a barcode sticker for your records from each sample collection kit that you send into the laboratory.  This number can be used later to track your sample through the laboratory computer system.
  • To better organize the amount of work coming into the laboratory, some sample collection kits specify a specific date for the sample collection.    Do your best to collect the sample(s) on or within a few days of the specified date and mail immediately.  If it is not possible to collect the sample around the specified date, call customer service at (402) 471-3935 to make other arrangements for collection.
  • DO NOT fill out your sample request form with water soluble ink or pencil.  The information may be lost if the sample container sweats or leaks in-transit to the laboratory.
  • If you send in an address change, please let us know whether the change is for shipping, reporting, and/or billing.  Changes should be written on your sample request form or on a separate note attached to the form.  Be sure the note includes your account number and/or name.
  • DO NOT wrap your sample request form around your sample collection container.  Leave the sample request form outside of the styrofoam box, the same way it was shipped to you.
  • DO provide your phone number when ordering sample collection kits so that we can contact you if questions arise about your order or account.
  • Schedule all testing for BODs, Orthos, Fecal Coliforms, Fecal Streps, Heterotrophic plate counts, and Nitrite's with Customer Service at (402) 471-3935, at least 24 hours in advance.  These all have short holding times and require special handling in the laboratory to meet method requirements.
  • DO NOT mail or deliver your kits with short holding times so that they will arrive on a weekend or holiday, unless prior arrangements have been made.
  • If you need fast turnaround for a special project or emergency, call the Lab Operations Manager or QA Manager at (402) 471-2122 and ask if the lab can meet your special testing needs.  We will make every effort to accomodate your requests.

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