Human blood sampling will be undertaken on a volunteer basis and will follow internationally-accepted protocols to ensure consent of donors.
Field crew personnel will supervise all sample collections, and signed consent forms will be obtained in advance from all donors (see Example Field Data Sheets). Blood samples will be collected from the following selected groups of people:
- Those who have been exposed to suspected contamination (PCB) for at least 4 years (through dermal contact, ingestion, and/or inhalation);
- Those who meet the blood eligibility criteria; and
- Those who have given informed consent.
Given the considerations above, the field sampling team will screen and select the most suitable candidates for blood sampling ( see Example Field Data Sheets).
The field sampling team is requested to commission qualified health professionals from the Department of Health or an international standard health clinic to collect individual blood samples (target volume of 80 mL) from each donor. Whole blood samples will be kept cool on ice packs during the sampling procedure, and frozen within one hour of collection.
All donors are requested to sign the informed consent forms in advance of blood sampling (see Example Field Data Sheets). Consent forms will be translated into local languages, and will be presented by the national consultant in the local language of the blood donors.
It is expected that 8 – 10 individual blood tubes (vacutainers) will be collected from each donor, to ensure a minimum of 80 mL of blood sample is collected. This volume is <20% of a typical blood donation, and is required to ensure QA/QC in analysis.
The blood sampling form will be filled by the field crew , and include sample ID, donor’s name, sex, date of birth, blood tube sample number, and total number of blood tubes (vacutainers) collected (see Example Field Data Sheets).
No details are given about collecting the blood samples because this should only be done by a qualified health practitioner.
All samples will be kept cool (4°C), or frozen. Samples will be exported to immediately after completion of the field program. International shipping/handling protocols for samples will be employed. Personnel will transport the samples to the laboratory upon completion of field sampling. This is essential to ensure QA/QC and proper chain-of-custody of the samples (see Example Field Data Sheets). Samples will be transferred immediately to freezer facilities upon arrival, and will then be shipped to the laboratory within 48 hours of arrival.
Health, safety, and security of all personnel working on the project are a top priority. Extensive measures must be taken to protect field crew workers from exposure to toxic contamination, from exposure to human blood from donors, and to ensure safety of all day-to-day fieldwork activities. All blood samples are treated as potentially biohazardous material (UNEP 2007).
Qualified medical professionals from the Ministry of Health and/or local medical clinics will be required to collect blood samples. Field sampling members in each country will oversee blood sample collections, and ensure QA/QC of all data collected.