Collection and Management of Human Samples

Scientist managing human samples in a lab.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Improving the Collection and Management of Human Samples Used for Measuring Environmental Chemicals and Nutrition Indicators describes important factors for obtaining and using high-quality samples in studies that assess environmental exposures and nutrition status. Recognizing important considerations for collecting, storing, managing, and transporting human samples can minimize external pre-analytical contamination risks, ensure analyte integrity, and promote accurate exposure and nutrition assessments. In addition to describing key sample collection and management considerations that are generally applicable for all biomonitoring methods, this resource describes best practices for the collection, storage, and shipment of samples intended for specific tests, including:

Improving the Collection and Management of Human Samples Used for Measuring Environmental Chemicals and Nutrition Indicators pdf icon[PDF – 982 KB]

Steps for Collecting Fingerstick Blood Samples in Micro-Vials for Lead Testing pdf icon[PDF – 279 KB]

Whole blood

  • Lead/Cadmium/Total Mercury/Manganese/Selenium/Cobalt/Chromium
  • Speciated Mercury (Inorganic Mercury/Methyl Mercury/Ethyl Mercury)
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Folate

Blood cells

  • Acrylamide/Glycidamide/Ethylene oxide/Formaldehyde


  • Cotinine, Hydroxycotinine
  • PBDEs/OCP/PCBs, Lipids
  • Vitamin C
  • Nutritional biomarkers (ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, methylmalonic acid, vitamin A, vitamin E, carotenoids, vitamin D, fatty acids including trans fatty acids)
  • Aflatoxin B1-Lysine
  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
  • Copper, Selenium, and Zinc


  • Cotinine, Hydroxycotinine


  • Antimony, Arsenic (total), Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, Cesium, Chromium, Cobalt, Lead, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Platinum, Strontium, Thallium, Tin, Tungsten, and Uranium
  • Speciated Arsenic
  • Mercury and Iodine
  • Caffeine and metabolites, Phytoestrogens, Non-Persistent Pesticides, Organophosphate Flame Retardants, Phthalates, Phenols and Personal Care Products Chemicals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, 4-(Methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL)

This resource is intended for use by epidemiologists, laboratorians, and other health scientists in state or local public health programs that are involved in the design and implementation of human biomonitoring studies.

This resource is not intended to be an all-inclusive guide or protocol for designing and executing high-quality human exposure studies; rather, it is meant to describe considerations for protecting the quality of clinical samples throughout collection, storage, and shipping. In addition, these considerations highlight the importance of involving laboratory personnel in the earliest stage of design of a study or investigation.

Page last reviewed: April 5, 2018, 12:00 AM