Hazardous waste test methods — SW-846

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) periodically updates analytical methods for environmental laboratories that test solid and dangerous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, often called RCRA. These are the Hazardous Waste Test Methods or SW-846. Our team accredits environmental laboratories in Washington and offers information about the latest SW-846 changes.

Update VII, Phase II — July 2021

Update VII, Phase I — June 2020

Update VI, Phase II — July 2018

The federal EPA released notification on July 12, 2018, that they finalized SW-846 Update VI, Phase II.

The changes include two organic methods (8260D and 8270E) for the analysis of volatile and semi-volatile compounds in solid waste and various other environmental media using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS). 

These two major organic methods were revised to add new analytes and preparation methods, the option of hydrogen as a carrier gas, the use of advanced measurement techniques (e.g., selected ion monitoring, chemical ionization, tandem mass spectrometry), and updated language for lower limit of quantitation and method blanks. 
For more information on these methods and the other phases of Update VI to SW-846, please see the SW-846 Update VI webpage.

We will begin accrediting laboratories for EPA methods 8260D and 8270E from Aug. 12, 2018, through Aug. 11, 2019, at laboratory request only.

Beginning Aug. 12, 2019, scopes for Washington will be automatically updated to EPA Methods 8260D and 8270E in place of the previous method versions. We will make exceptions for laboratories seeking recognition of a third-party accreditation where their primary scope has not yet updated to SW-846 Update VI Phase II Methods. Those laboratories will have an additional year, through Aug. 12, 2020, to have their primary scopes updated.

Laboratories will have one year, through Aug. 12, 2019, to implement the updates for these methods and to update their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to conform to the newer versions of the methods.

The methods used in a lab, the SOPs for those methods, and the methods cited on the proficiency testing (PT) studies should match the lab's current scope of accreditation. Laboratories in transition may choose to report PTs for both new and old method versions.

We will accredit only in the “Solid and Chemical Materials” matrix for these methods.

SW-846 Update V — August 2015

  • Organics (Method 8000D) — We expect labs accredited for Organics 8000 series methods to use and comply with the requirements in Method 8000D, even for older methods that reference 8000C.
  • Metals (Methods 6010D and 6020B)

Current Washington Scopes of Accreditation have already been updated to the Update V methods. You do not need to send us your revised SOPs, but have them ready and available for review at the next routine onsite audit. Note that certain exceptions exist where accreditation is granted in part by recognition of a third-party accrediting body. For specific details, contact us.

Other Update V revisions for chapters 1 through 5

In addition to method updates, Update V also includes revisions to Chapters 1-5 of SW-846. Chapter 1 replaces MDL with “Lower Limit of Quantitation (LLOQ),” defined as the lowest point of quantitation which, in most cases, is the lowest concentration in the calibration curve. The LLOQ is verified periodically with blank spikes, also known as Laboratory Control Samples (LCSs), using lab-specific statistically based recovery limits, or project limits. For more detailed requirements for the LLOQ, please see section 9.8 of 6010D or 6020B or 9.7 of 8000D.

Note that your Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) requirements supersede method requirements for a given project. That is, if a QAPP specifies MDL (not LLOQ) requirements, then those are the requirements that must be met for that project. If a QAPP specifies SW-846 methods, but does not specify MDL or LLOQ, then the current LLOQ requirements will be the default. We do not specify the requirements in QAPPs.

For questions on LLOQ requirements, please contact Rebecca Wood, 306-871-8811, for metals or Kamilee Ginder, 360-871-8841, for organics.