Public Health Considerations for Collection and Management of Human Samples


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention'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 publication 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

Steps for Collecting Fingerstick Blood Samples in Micro-Vials for Lead Testing

Key considerations

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

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


  • 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)

Implementation considerations

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

Using this resource‎

This resource is not intended to be an all-inclusive guide or protocol. Rather, it is meant to describe considerations to protect 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 for studies and investigations.