Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between parts, sections, and methods in Standard Methods?

Standard Methods consists of 10 parts, each focusing on a particular type of analyte. Examples are Part 3000 Metals, Part 5000 Aggregate Organic Constituents, and Part 9000 Microbiological Examination. Parts are made up of sections, each covering a member of the analyte group named in the part. Examples are Arsenic in Part 3000, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in Part 5000, and Heterotrophic Plate Count in Part 9000. Sections can also cover specific analytical techniques within a part, such as ion chromatography in Part 4000 and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry in Part 3000. These analytical techniques are used to determine a number of individual analytes.

Within the sections are methods, each designating a means of determining the analyte listed in the section. Within Section 4500-Cl Chlorine (Residual) are several methods for determining chlorine, such as DPD or amperometric titration. While the designation "method" is usually suitable, some material found within the sections denotes a procedure such as sample preparation or distillation, not a particular analytical determination. Such material is sometimes referred to as subsections, rather than methods.

While it is common to use sections and methods interchangeably, they are not the same and the differences between them must be noted.

How do I know if a method is New, Revised, or USEPA-approved?

All methods and sections are marked with icons, indicating which methods are New, Revised, or USEPA-approved.

Who should I contact if I would like to propose a new method for Standard Methods?

Email the  Standard Methods Manager or call 1-303-347-6241. You will be asked to provide a copy of the test method along with a cover letter requesting that the JEB approve the development of this test for Standard Methods. It is also useful if precision and bias data are included.

If JEB approval is received, a JTG must be formed that will prepare the method in Standard Methods style and vote on the manuscript. A person representing the developer of the test method will be asked to be on the JTG, but cannot be JTG chair. If approved by the JTG, the manuscript will go through the usual balloting process for Standard Methods.

To whom should I direct a technical question about Standard Methods?

Email the Standard Methods Manager or call 1-303-347-6241. Email is best because a question can then be easily distributed to a number of Standard Methods volunteers to obtain an answer. The Standard Methods Manager can answer questions about Standard Methods policy or such questions as which methods are USEPA-approved. For more technical questions, the manager will distribute the email message to volunteers.

How can I join the Standard Methods Committee (SMC)?

Simply follow the instruction on the Join the Standard Methods Committee page. Here you will find information on the committee along with two documents that you need to print out, fill in and return to the Standard Methods manager. The Information Form provides your contact information, educational background, technical experience, and a list of those Joint Task Groups (JTGs) you are interested in joining. The Abstention Ballot lets us know which parts of Standard Methods you wish to receive ballots in. All members of the SMC receive ballots in Part 1000 Introduction.

What are companion products?

Companion products are sections that are considered useful or important to the section where they are referenced. Some companion products provide information that can be helpful in performing the original test method. The preparation of reagent water (Section 1080) would be an example. Other companion products are considered so important that they must be used with the original section. For example, in the determination of Biochemcial Oxygen Demand (BOD), Section 4500-O is listed as a companion product. Because dissolved oxygen is determined in BOD, Section 4500-O must be used with the original BOD method.

What does it mean to volunteer for the Standard Methods Committee? How much work is involved?

The amount of time and effort involved in the Standard Methods Committee (SMC) is up to the individual member. You can choose to receive only general ballots that are distributed to those members of the SMC who wish to receive ballots in a certain part. Or, if you have expertise in a specific area and are willing to do more work, you can join a Joint Task Group (JTG). The JTGs are the committee subgroups that revise existing methods and develop new ones. They are committees of from five to 15 members and manuscripts are balloted within that group. Once the JTG approves a section, that manuscript continues in the editing process.

Which editions of Standard Methods are approved for use by the USEPA? How do I know if the method I'm using is acceptable for regulatory compliance?

While it is frequently stated that a certain edition of Standard Methods is “approved" by the USEPA, that is not strictly correct. USEPA approves by method, so it is correct to say that methods in an edition are approved. The electronic version of the Federal Register
contains the most recent list of those Standard Methods test procedures approved for wastewater.

This electronic Federal Register notice does not cite an Edition because USEPA would prefer users to reference methods based on their year of Standard Methods Committee approval.

A good source of information for methods approved for drinking water is the USEPA website link for analytical methods approved for drinking water.

If you have any questions, contact the Standard Methods Manager at [email protected].

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I subscribe to Standard Methods Online?

Subscribing to Standard Methods Online is a simple process. Subscriptions are based on the number of "seats" that you wish to have for your organization. Basically, each seat represents one user. Each user will have their own username and password. The username is your email address of record.

Just follow the step-by-step instructions in your shopping cart and pay by credit card. In some cases a purchase order will be allowed, primarily for public utilities and government organizations. To use a purchase order call the Standard Methods customer toll free number.

For general questions concerning Standard Methods Online, contact customer service at [email protected].

Where can I find the pricing for Standard Methods Online?

Standard Methods Subscription page lists details on the variety of subscription packages offered.

What is the “community of experts”?

One of the advantages to subscribing to Standard Methods Online is the Discussion Forum. There are over 500 volunteers for Standard Methods with expertise in virtually every area of water quality analysis. The discussion forum allows you query these experts as well as other professionals who subscribe to the service.

Can I print the methods?

Individual methods cannot be printed. The complete section is printed. As long as you have subscribed to Standard Methods Online or have purchased the section, the section can be printed. The printed sections are for personal use only and cannot be photocopied or distributed without permission from the Standard Methods Committee.

Do I have to subscribe to Standard Methods Online to download methods?

The greatest value comes from subscribing to Standard Methods Online and becoming a part of the community of experts. When you subscribe to Standard Methods Online you receive unlimited downloads of sections, 24/7. You may also purchase sections a la carte. The system will prompt you if your shopping cart total exceeds the cost of an annual subscription to Standard Methods Online.

Who should I contact if I forgot my Username and Password?

If you have forgotten your password you can retrieve it online by clicking on "Forgot password?" in the Login screen. Or you can contact Standard Methods Online customer service  [email protected].

Your Username is your email address of record when you initially subscribed. If you have changed your email address and you are a member of APHA, AWWA, or WEF contact the respective customer service representative and they will change your email address of record. If you are not a member of AWWA, WEF, or APHA, you can change your email address of record and hence your Username under Profile.

What are the requirements to using Standard Methods Online?

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the Chrome browser only for tablets.

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