Clean water: A new IAS initiative
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration tells us that about 70 percent of the human body is made up of water and, coincidentally, more than 70 percent of Earth is covered in water. Common sense tells us that we all would like this water to be clean.
To that end, in 2020, the International Accreditation Service (IAS) embarked on a new program in conjunction with the state of California to ensure that laboratories conduct environmental testing and gather robust laboratory data in accordance with common national standards.
Some background for the uninitiated: In 1978, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated a laboratory certification program for laboratories involved in analyzing drinking water and delegated the authority for operation of the program to state agencies. Over the ensuing years, many states expanded this program to include other environmental media. As a result of efforts that began in 1987, a National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program was created and is now managed by The NELAC Institute (TNI).
California then adopted TNI’s standards in 2020, requiring accredited laboratories to implement these changes over a three-year period. IAS now accredits laboratories conducting environmental testing under the California State Water Resources Control Board’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) by virtue of IAS’ recognition by TNI as a non-governmental accreditation body.
The California ELAP oversees hundreds of laboratories in California and other states that regulate testing of drinking water, wastewater discharges and hazardous waste cleanup sites throughout California. Under new regulations, laboratories are required to be accredited to the TNI standard for managing all factors that potentially can affect the quality of laboratory results. Previously, laboratories were required to meet only the requirements in the analytical methods they perform, but the TNI standard requires facilities to control a broader scope of influential factors.
The requirement for accreditation of laboratories is a significant move, given that laboratory data provides a foundation for public health and environmental protection. IAS supports the California Water Board’s commitment to ensuring ELAP labs meet common requirements and generate high-quality data.
In addition to providing accreditation services, IAS has hosted a series of informative webinars on various topics having to do with ELAP and TNI. The most recent webinar, which took place on May 4, 2021, was the 10th in the series. The recordings of each are available for viewing:
Webinar 1: CA ELAP/2016 TNI Standard for Testing Laboratories Training (90 minutes)
Webinar 2: Get ready for the new California ELAP Accreditation Requirements Training (60 minutes)
Webinar 3: How to prepare your Laboratory for an ELAP Assessment (90 minutes)
Webinar 4: The Importance of QC in an ELAP Laboratory (100 minutes)
Webinar 5: Understanding Technical Criteria for Chemistry Methods and Equipment (85 minutes)
Webinar 6: Understanding Technical Criteria for Microbiological Methods and Equipment (95 minutes)
Webinar 7: Guidelines for Method Selection and Validation (85 minutes)
Webinar 8: Metrological Traceability in the ELAP Laboratory (80 minutes)
Webinar 9: Training and Competence of ELAP Laboratory Personnel (90 minutes)
Webinar 10: Creating and Integrating the Laboratory Quality Manual (90 minutes)
That’s a lot of information and acronyms — but when you consider all of it, it is an important public service that IAS offers to ensure clean water to citizens. In a very short time, we’ve put the pieces of the puzzle together, building and launching an assessment program that includes technical expertise in water chemistry, webinars that attract more than 200 laboratory directors and scientists per session, and an innovative outreach campaign targeting these laboratories.
In total, IAS has established itself with private laboratories and utilities as a key member of the ELAP ecosystem. And the best is yet to come since this program is mandated by the state and laboratories must renew their ELAP certificates (via assessments) periodically. The IAS management and technical team’s coordinated approach will help the regulator achieve their goal to bring the necessary quality. Members can review the IAS website for more information. After all, we are a California company, and we like our water clean!