Prior to shipping samples to the analytical laboratories, chain-of-custody (COC) forms must be filled out (see example field data sheets). These forms are used to notify the laboratory of the number and type of samples that are being shipped and type of analyses requested. In addition, these forms enable the tracking of samples by the project team from the point of shipment to the laboratory.
Information recorded on the COC includes the date, project, sender's name, sample type (e.g., soil, sediment, fish, bird, dust, oil, etc), sample ID number, sampling time and location, analyses requested, and preservatives added or required.
All samples should be carefully packaged with packing materials and shipped to analytical laboratories for storage and subsequent analyses. Samples should be shipped in sturdy containers such as Coleman coolers to designated laboratories.
The receiving laboratory must check the COC and ensure all samples arrived intact, in good condition, and confirm the analyses to be performed.