NJ LABS ENTER NATIONAL PROGRAM TO STANDARDIZE ENVIRONMENTAL
Sixteen laboratories servicing New Jersey are among the first in the
nation to be accredited by a national organization seeking to ensure accuracy
and consistency among environmental testing laboratories throughout the
The National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) for
the first time has accredited 669 labs in the nation that meet the standards
developed by the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference
(NELAC). NELAC was formed in 1995 to establish performance standards for
labs conducting environmental testing, and for government agencies that
approve the analytical capabilities of these labs. It is a voluntary organization
of state and federal agencies, laboratories, industries and similar entities.
NELAP has recognized the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
(NJDEP) as one of the first state agencies capable of administering NELAC's
rigorous standards. Other state agencies similarly recognized include
New York, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana,
New Hampshire, Oregon and Utah.
"This is an exemplary state-based initiative that will improve lab services
nationwide and produce a higher quality of data in the testing of drinking
water, air, wastewater, and hazardous and radioactive waste. Through this
accreditation program, residents, businesses, utilities, permit holders
and others who use the data generated by these environmental labs will
have a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of the test results they
receive," said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Shinn.
An added benefit of the program is a reciprocal agreement among the member
states that will allow the accreditation of a lab by one state to be honored
by other member states. This means that labs that perform tests for customers
in several states will be tested for quality assurance by a smaller number
of state agencies. Previously, if a lab performed tests for customers
in eight states, it could be subject to quality assurance testing by each
of those states. Honoring the quality inspections performed by NELAP-member
states will reduce this duplication and potentially reduce costs for the
labs and their customers.
Joseph Aiello, chief of the NJDEP Office of Quality Assurance which
oversees environmental labs servicing New Jersey, said that NELAC gives
labs new quality assurance and quality control procedures covering analytic
processes, reporting procedures, minimum standards for staff education
and experience, and customer service. To qualify for NELAP accreditation,
each lab was required to document correct procedures, to provide acceptable
proficiency test results and to successfully complete an on-site audit.
"In the past, since environmental labs were not using the same performance
standards, it could be difficult to compare test results from labs accredited
by different accrediting authorities," said Aiello. "Now we'll be able
to effectively use and compare data generated by all NELAP accredited
labs, and we'll have a more efficient program through the sharing of resources
by all NELAP recognized accrediting authorities."
For the complete list of NELAP accredited labs, visit the NELAC website
at www.epa.gov/ttn/nelac and
click on "What's New."