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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 2/2/01
01/07
CONTACT: Amy Collings or Loretta O'Donnell
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

NJ LABS ENTER NATIONAL PROGRAM TO STANDARDIZE ENVIRONMENTAL TESTING

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 United States.

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."

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