ASTM D4840: Sample Chain-of-Custody Procedures Standard

Dripping water into test tube to test sample through ASTM D4840 sample chain-of-custody procedures.

What is Sample Chain-of-Custody?

During criminal investigations, laboratory testing often is necessary to attain data from evidence. Proper sample chain-of-custody procedures instill integrity and nurture accountability throughout this process by controlling and keeping track of who handles samples.

ASTM D4840-99(2018)e1: Standard Guide For Sample Chain-Of-Custody Procedures defines sample chain-of-custody as:

“a process whereby a sample is maintained under physical possession or control during its entire life cycle, that is, from collection to disposal.”

Sample chain-of-custody procedures, as outlined in ASTM D4840, assure one’s ability to support data and conclusions adequately.

About ASTM D4840

The ASTM D4840 guide contains a comprehensive discussion of potential requirements, in the analysis of water, for a sample chain-of-custody program. It outlines chain-of-custody procedures relating to field practices, shipping methods, and laboratory handling of samples.

The procedures outlined in ASTM D4840 are intended to document sample possession during each stage of the sample’s life cycle, thereby providing accountability for and documentation of sample integrity from the time samples are collected until their disposal.

Please note that sample chain-of-custody is just one aspect of the larger issue of data defensibility. Users of the ASTM D4840 document can turn to its Appendix X1 for a discussion of the elements of data defensibility.

ASTM D4840-99(2018)e1: Standard Guide For Sample Chain-Of-Custody Procedures is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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