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ECDMS Catalogs - Background

The following information provides an overview of what a “Catalog” is in ECDMS.

The catalog is central to everything that goes on in ECDMS. Virtually all ECDMS database tables and functions are linked in some way to a catalog and the data it contains. An ECDMS catalog is essentially a work request to have some number of samples analyzed for environmental contaminants. However, the amount and scope of the data that accompanies a catalog goes far beyond the needs of the work request. The idea behind the catalog, is for the catalog submitter to provide enough details about their data and samples, that the information can be used by other users to answer questions about their data, samples, and issues

Catalog Creation - When an ECDMS user wants to have a set of samples analyzed for environmental contaminants, they use ECDMS to create a catalog about those samples and send the information to ACF for processing. The reason for requesting analyses can be numerous, some examples include:

  • The samples may be part of a continuing contaminants study.
  • The FWS may be in the process of acquiring land and want to ensure there no major contaminant problems.
  • The samples may be part of an ongoing law enforcement case.
  • There may have been a major wildlife die off.
  • Suspected environmental contamination of soil, water, or wildlife.
  • Environmental disasters, like an oil spill.

In order to create a catalog, the ECDMS user is provided with a series of data entry forms and features that help them enter their data quickly and accurately. The amount of data that must be entered can be quite large, depending on the number of samples that are included. A summary of the data that is included in a catalog follows.

  1. Catalog Information - This includes data that pertain to the entire catalog and all the samples. It consists of 13 data fields supplied by the user and 7 system fields (where ECDMS supplies or maintains the data). Some of the fields and data in this group includes:
    1. Catalog Title - One line description of the catalog.
    2. Catalog Number - System supplied unique identifier used to track the catalog and its samples.
    3. Number of Samples - Number of samples in the catalog. System maintained field.
    4. Sample Disposition - Indicates what the labs should do with the samples once they have been analyzed.
    5. Catalog Submitter - Person submitting the catalog and contact person if problems arise.
  2. Catalog Comments Fields - This is a series of fields that are termed, “unlimited text fields” which are used to store a variety of information. The information entered consists of comments or text and can be of any length. The catalog submitter may enter nothing, one line, a paragraph, or several pages of information. There are four “unlimited text fields” associated with the catalog information, they include:
    1. Project Description - Used to provide a detailed description of the project or study associated with the catalog. This includes such information as why the study or project is being conducted, what questions it will answer, background information on the study site, etc.
    2. Catalog Instructions - Used to provide ACF and contract labs with specific instructions on how to process the catalog and its samples.
    3. Catalog Description - Allows the user to enter any additional information unique to the catalog and samples, which were not appropriate for the project description.
    4. Non-Routine Request - Used to request non-routine analyses and to provide specific details about the request.
  3. Cost Code Information - This includes account and dollar amounts to which analytical costs will be charged. The user can enter one or more cost codes and related data. Cost code information consists of 3 fields entered by the user and 2 system fields. Fields entered by the user include the following:
    1. Cost Code - Cost code to charge the analytical work.
    2. Priority Number - Indicates which cost code to charge to first, second, etc.
    3. Dollars Available - The maximum that can be charged to the cost code.
  4. Sample Information - Individual sample information must be provided for every sample in the catalog. There are 28 fields that the user can enter, and 3 system fields. Many of the fields, associated with a sample, only have to be included for certain sample types. For example, if the catalog includes water or soil samples then obviously these samples will not contain data for such fields as sample sex, age, genus, and species. An example of some of the fields in this group, include the following:
    1. Sample Number - Alphanumeric string that uniquely identifies the sample within a catalog.
    2. Sample Matrix - Composition of the sample, for example, liver, water, soil, whole body.
    3. Sample Weight - Total weight of the sample in grams.
    4. Latitude and Longitude - Latitude and longitude where the sample was collected.
    5. Sample Sex - Sex of the sample, if appropriate and known.
    6. Common Name - Common name of the sample, if appropriate and known.
    7. Genus/Species - Two fields containing taxonomical data on the sample, if appropriate.
  5. Sample Comments - This group of data is similar to catalog comments, in that, the user can enter an unlimited amount of text and comments on a variety of subjects associated with their samples. There are 3 different sample comment fields.
    1. Sample Comments - Used to record important biological information about the specimen from which the sample came.
    2. Field Preparation - Description of any procedures, lab or field, that were used to stabilize or prepare the sample for chemical analysis.
    3. Analysis Requested Comments - Used to specify details when requesting non-routine analyses or routine analyses with a different detection limit.
  6. Analysis Requested - The user must specify what analyses should be performed for each sample in their catalog. The user can select one or more analysis for each sample. The use must also specify the order in which the analysis should be done. This information is only used by the analytical labs if there is not enough sample available to perform all the analyses requested.

Every catalog submitted to ACF for processing must contain at least one sample and every sample at least one analysis. There is no upper limit for either. The largest catalog submitted to date contains 622 samples. The average catalog contains 32 samples and 15,824 bytes of data (which equals 198 lines of data with 80 characters per line).