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4.1.1 Scoops, Spoons, and Shovels

Use: Hand-held scoops (10- to 100-gram capacity), spoons (typically 300- to 2,000-gram capacity), and shovels are used for sampling near surface soils.


Accurate, representative samples can be collected depending on the care and precision demonstrated by the sample team member. The use of a flat, pointed mason trowel to cut a block of the desired soil can be helpful when undisturbed profiles are required. Care should be exercised to avoid use of devices plated with chrome or other materials. Plating is particularly common with garden implements such as potting trowels. The following procedure is used to collect surface soil samples:

  1. Carefully remove the top layer of soil to the desired sample depth with a precleaned spade.
  2. Using a precleaned, stainless steel scoop, plastic spoon, or trowel, remove and discard a thin layer of soil from the area which came in contact with the spade.
  3. If volatile organic analysis is to be performed, transfer the sample directly into an appropriate, labeled sample container with a stainless steel lab spoon, or equivalent, and secure the cap tightly. Place the remainder of the sample into a stainless steel, plastic, or other appropriate homogenization container, and mix thoroughly to obtain a homogenous sample representative of the entire sampling interval. Then, either place the sample into appropriate, labeled containers and secure the caps tightly; or, if composite samples are to be collected, place a sample from another sampling interval or location into the homogenization container and mix thoroughly.


1. Non-Halogenated VOCs 5. PAHs 9. Inorganics
2. Non-Halogenated SVOCs 6. Pesticides/Herbicides 10. Explosives
3. Halogenated VOCs 7. Metals 11. TPHs
4. Halogenated SVOCs 8. Radionuclides


Soil: Ground Water: Surface Water: Gas/Air:
MINIMUM Not Applicable Not Applicable Not Applicable
Maximum Depth: Up to 5 feet.
Production Rate: Sample is available quickly.
Investigation Derived Waste Volume: Small volume of waste.
Technology Status: Commercially available and routinely used field technology.
Certification/Verification: Technology has not participated in CalEPA certification and/or CSCT verification program.
Relative Cost per Sample: Least expensive.


ASTM Standards:

D 5633 - 94 Practice for Sampling with a Scoop.
D 6232 Standard Guide for Selection of Sampling Equipment for Waste and Contaminated Media Data Collection Activities.

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