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ISO CD 18400-301: Soil Quality – Sampling for Volatiles and on Site Semi-quantitative Determination in Field Investigations, has been published for comment, with all comments to be received by BSI by 22 February 2021.  All comments should be sent directly to Jessy Mathew (  If you require a copy for review, please contact Michael Smith directly (

This international standard provides guidance to the field investigation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in soil. This investigation can be part of a broader environmental investigation or be limited to only volatile organic compounds. VOC’s are the most common contaminated volatile compounds; but the standard also covers other non-organic volatiles (e.g. volatile ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S)), also the case of mercury for example.

This standard provides specific recommendations on soil sampling and semi quantitative measurements for VOCs that are not explicitly covered in the exiting ISO 18400 series. In addition, it provides information on the preparation steps (choosing a sampling strategy, defining a sampling plan), describes sampling techniques (drilling techniques, sampling devices and procedures) and field measurements, gives advice on conservation, packaging, transport and delivery to the laboratory in the context of VOCs .

This standard provides guidance to select the relevant sampling techniques for determining VOCs and gives procedures to use it. It clarifies the applicability and limits of the sampling techniques, taking into account the physical, chemical or biological reactions that can occur in soil. For example, it can provide field operators, project leaders and laboratories, an overview of methods for taking soil samples, minimizing the possible loss of VOCs during and after sample collection.

This standard give guidance on the use of air/volatiles measuring techniques for safety reasons, before using the same techniques for semi-quantitative measurements.

Direct quantitative measurement of volatile compounds by field analysis laboratories is outside of this scope as is safety risk assessment.