This document consists of a proposal for the development of an ASTM International (ASTM) standard guide describing the important considerations for the determination of representative background concentrations at sediment sites. The proposed guide would provide an overarching framework for ASTM guides that have already been published or are in development for this topic.
At many sediment sites, representative background concentrations are the de facto remediation goals for compounds including metals such as mercury and arsenic, and organics such as polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin/furans. Hence, it is critical that the representative background concentrations be determined correctly, using a technically defensible process. If background concentrations are incorrectly determined and are lower than they should have been, unnecessary expenditures will result in the remedy phase. If background concentrations are incorrectly determined and are higher than they should have been, the remedy will not be as protective of human and/or ecological receptors as it should have been.
Standardized guidance currently does exist for the development of representative background concentrations at sediment sites. ASTM E3242-2020 (Standard Guide for Determination of Representative Sediment Background Concentrations) discusses how to calculate representative background concentrations. In addition, WK75839 is currently developing a guide that supplements ASTM E3242-2020, providing further guidance on choosing appropriate background reference areas to be used in the calculation of representative background concentrations; this draft guide is currently in the balloting process.
Literature searches have resulted in a limited body of available documentation by regulatory bodies on the important considerations for the determination of representative background concentrations at sediment sites. Note that Appendix X2 of ASTM E3164-2018 (Standard Guide for Sediment Corrective Action – Monitoring) currently discusses some of these considerations in calculating representative background concentrations. However, as a guide appendix, its content is considered non-mandatory.
The title and scope are in draft form and are under development within this ASTM Committee.
Developed by Subcommittee: E50.04
Staff Manager: Molly Lynyak
Date Initiated: 04-07-2022
Technical Contact: Tripp Fischer