Sample tracking is an important part of analytical quality control for users of thermal desorption, whether in high-throughput contract labs or in smaller studies also requiring traceability. There are several ways to track samples depending on budget and preferred technology. Markes recommends either the use of barcodes (a standard feature of Markes tubes) and scanner, or TubeTAG, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that can be attached to a TD tube throughout its lifetime to log both sorbent/tube and sample information.
TubeTAGs are generally used in two ways when using an automated Markes TD system: sample-specific mode and tube-specific mode.
Sample tracking is particularly important in applications where a chain of custody is required, or the sample is irreplaceable or rare. These areas include forensic science, end users with multiple sample locations, and labs requiring an audit trail on samples.
Benefits of sample tracking
- Compliance with standard methods such as US EPA Method 325.
- Saves time compared with manually logging of tube serial numbers.
- Reduces risk of mislabelling and transcription errors.