6.4.1 Laboratory Accreditation/Certification

Laboratory accreditation and certification is possible for ISM processes even without reference methods by using laboratory-specific SOPs.

Project teams must be aware of the accreditation requirements that apply to their projects. Accreditation requirements may vary based on the program and state under which the sampling is being performed. They may also vary based on whether the procedure follows a formal published method, is based on a formal published method, or is an internal laboratory procedure. In most systems, accreditation is given at the “fields of testing” (FOT) level. Each combination of matrix (e.g., nonpotable water, drinking water, solid and chemical materials), method/technology, and analyte is considered an FOT.

There are three primary types of accreditation requirements:

  • National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP). NELAP is a national program implemented by member states. State governmental agencies usually serve as accreditation bodies for state-selected programs and FOTs. A NELAP accreditation body will accept by recognition the accreditation status of a laboratory issued by another NELAP accreditation body (called “secondary accreditation”). For more information, see www.nelac-institute.org.
  • Note: Each member state has its own procedures to address accreditation of method modification and internal laboratory procedure.
  • Non-NELAP state accreditation. Some states have elected not to participate in NELAP, and some have retained separate accreditation structures for certain programs. Each of these states has its own procedures to address accreditation of method modification and internal laboratory procedure (e.g., Alaska).

  • Agency-specific accreditation programs. Some federal agencies have their own accreditation programs. DOD recently centralized the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP). Additional information on DOD ELAP can be found at www.denix.osd.mil/edqw/accreditation/home/.

Some accrediting bodies certify laboratories based on the laboratory-specific SOPs, e.g., NELAP, DOD ELAP, and other appropriate accrediting bodies.

Laboratories must demonstrate compliance with the DOD Quality Systems Manual (QSM) through the DOD ELAP, and the SOPs should be in accordance with the Guidance for Obtaining Representative Laboratory Analytical Subsamples from Particulate Laboratory Samples (Gerlach and Nocerino 2003). Assessment by DOD ELAP according to the DOD QSM (DOD 2010) covers laboratory procedures for incremental sampling for explosives analysis. Laboratories proposed for analysis of parameters other than explosives should be assessed and approved for ISM sample processing in accordance with Incremental Sampling: MIS-Based Laboratory Requirements for the Analysis of Explosives (USEPA SW-846 Method 8330B) and Metals in Solid Matrices (USACE 2008). Standard Guide for Laboratory Subsampling of Media Related to Waste Management Activities (ASTM 2003) gives guidance on sample splitting, particle size reduction, and the mass of subsample necessary to reduce the FE to <15%.