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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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Certified Laboratories
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Laboratory Certification
"" How long does certification last?
"" Once I apply for certification, how long will it take me to become certified?
"" Does my facility need to be certified to sample and measure pH for the PWTA?
"" How do I get approval for a test method that is different than that certified by the NJDEP, OQA?
"" Is there a reduced fee for secondary NELAC certification?
"" Do I need to complete the entire Part II when I renew certification?
"" Do analyze immediately parameters need to be performed by a certified laboratory?
"" Why should my laboratory seek NELAC certification as opposed to ELCP certification?
"" As a certified laboratory, what do I need to do to obtain certification for an additional parameter or method?
"" Do certified laboratories have to maintain certification for the verification step for total coliform in support of the total coliform rule?
"" How can I find out what laboratories are certified for the analysis of analyte in drinking water/wastewater/solid-hazardous waste?
"" How can I get my drinking water tested? Can it be done for free?
Performance Testing (PT) Samples
"" To gain initial certification, is a laboratory required to analyze a PT?
"" Who are the OQA-approved PT providers?
"" Can I use the NJ DEP Waste Water PT samples for my EPA DMRQA requirements?
"" Are NELAP laboratories required to do the PTs in the NJ program that are above and beyond the TNI field of Proficiency testing to maintain accreditation?
"" Why did I fail my SDW Microbiology samples if I passed either Total or Fecal Coliform?
"" I don’t perform analysis using a particular method that I hold certification for, do I have to analyze a PT?
"" Will the OQA accept PT data from other PT providers?
"" What analytes/parameters do I need to report PT data for?
"" Does NJ want a copy of my PT data?
"" When do I report my PT data?
Regulatory
"" If my NJDEP-certified laboratory is not performing regulatory analyses for the NJDEP, must I use a certified laboratory?
"" If I am using field analytical methods such as immunoassay and XRF for waste site characterization, must I be certified?
"" Who should develop a Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP)?
"" Who has responsibility to insure that QAPPs are carried out as approved?
"" What is a New Jersey Quantitation Limit (NJQL)? How does the NJQL differ from the Practical Quantitation Limit (PQL) or other method limit terms?
Analytical Methods
"" Can laboratories use Freon 113 for Oil and Grease (O&G) and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) analyses?
"" Is there a replacement method for EPA 413.1 for O&G)
"" Is there a replacement method for EPA 418.1 for TPH?
"" Can EPA Method 1664 replace EPA Method 418.1?
"" Must wastewater samples be distilled before measuring NH3 by ion-selective electrode?
"" How do I obtain copies of the analytical methods?
"" Can I purchase the dilution/rinse water for use in microbiological testing?
  • How long does certification last?
  • ANSWER: All certified and applied laboratories are required to annually renew their certification. The certification year runs concurrent to the state's fiscal year of July 1 through June 30.
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  • Once I apply for certification, how long will it take me to become certified?
  • ANSWER: All applications are given the highest priority for review (typically within two weeks) by the Programs Technical staff. Each Application Package is checked for completeness of Part I-Administrative Information, Part II-Personnel and Part III-Analytical Testing Parameters. Upon receipt of the application, the OQA will advise the applicant in writing whether the application is administratively complete and will assign the laboratory a five-digit identification number. A determination that the application is administratively complete does not authorize the laboratory to perform sample handling, preservation, and analyses and reporting of data as regulated by N.J.A.C. 7:18. Once the application has been determined administratively complete, the laboratory will be contacted by a Laboratory Certification Officer (LCO). That LCO will request the submittal of additional information and schedule an on-site audit of the laboratory. Upon submittal of all required information and acceptable responses to any deficiencies noted in applicable documentation or that were identified in an on-site audit, the laboratory will be granted certification through issuance of a certificate and an Annual Certified Parameters List noting Certified status in the applicable analytical methods. This process can be completed in as little as 45 days. Extended time periods occur when deficiencies are noted during the application process or during the on-site audit.
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  • Does my facility need to be certified to sample and measure pH for the PWTA?
  • ANSWER: Yes. pH analysis for the PWTA must be performed by a facility certified to perform pH. Sampling for pH for the PWTA must be performed by an employee or authorized representative of a certified laboratory. However, since the holding time for a pH sample is 15 minutes, it is likely that the sampling will need to be performed by a laboratory certified for pH.
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  • How do I get approval for a test method that is different than that certified by the NJDEP, OQA?
  • ANSWER: Laboratories requesting certification for a test method not included on the list of DSAMs offered by the Department should contact the OQA. The OQA may approve the use of alternate test methods under the authority of N.J.A.C. 7:18. Please contact the OQA at 609-292-3950 for details.
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  • Is there a reduced fee for secondary NELAC certification?
  • ANSWER: There is no reduced fee for secondary NELAC certification.
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  • Do I need to complete the entire Part II when I renew certification?
  • ANSWER: Part II must always be submitted with a renewal application. However, it needs only to be completed in its entirety if laboratory personnel have changed since the application was last completed. Specific instructions for completing Part II can be found on the "Laboratory Certification Programs" page of this site.
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  • Do analyze immediately parameters need to be performed by a certified laboratory?
  • ANSWER: Yes, testing for all parameters including analyze immediately parameters such as temperature and pH, must be performed by a laboratory certified to perform those measurements.
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  • Why should my laboratory seek NELAP certification as opposed to ELCP certification?
  • ANSWER: This is a choice to be made by each lab. For a laboratory that is certified in several states, NELAP certification may reduce the number of audits a laboratory would need to receive, thereby reducing costs. Information on the NELAP program can be obtained at www.nelac-institute.org.
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  • As a certified laboratory, what do I need to do to obtain certification for an additional parameter or method?
  • ANSWER: A laboratory seeking additional certifications shall submit a modified application, including Parts I, II and III to the OQA. Application forms can be found on "Laboratory Certification Programs" page of this site.
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  • Do certified laboratories have to maintain certification for the verification step for total coliform in support of the total coliform rule?
  • ANSWER: Yes. N.J.A.C. 7:18-4.1(b) requires that a laboratory qualifying for certification to perform total coliform testing on samples for compliance with the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water's program must concurrently qualify to perform fecal coliform and/or E.Coli. testing so that the presence/absence of either can be detected and reported within the specified time limits.
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  • How can I find out what laboratories are certified for the analysis of a particluar pollutant in drinking water, wastewater, solid-hazardous waste, or air?
  • ANSWER: A list of laboratories can be found on the "Find a Certified Lab" link on this website or by contacting the OQA at (609)292-3950.
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  • How can I get my drinking water tested? Can it be done for free?
  • ANSWER: The NJDEP does not provide free drinking water testing. Costs for drinking water tests are paid by the property owner. A list of laboratories that are certified to perform drinking water testing can be found on the "Find a Certified Lab" link on this website or by contacting the OQA at (609)292-3950.
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  • To gain initial certification, is a laboratory required to analyze a PT?
  • ANSWER:Yes, for initial certification a PT sample may be obtained from any A2LA or ACLASS approved provider that meets the TNI requirements.  A PT must be acceptably analyzed for all parameters and matricies required on the parameter tables for that matrix.
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  • Who are the OQA-approved PT providers?
  • ANSWER:NJ Accredited laboratories may obtain PTs from any A2LA or ACLASS Approved PT provider that meets the TNI requirements and that currently hold certification for the analytes of interest.  A list of these approved providers can be found at http://www.nelac-institute.org/ptproviders.php
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  • Can I use the NJ DEP Waste Water PT samples for my EPA DMRQA requirements?
  • ANSWER:Yes, as of November 11, 2011 NPDES permittees no longer received or were required to complete DMR-QA studies from US-EPA.  Instead, the proficiency test (PT) requirements in the Department’s Environmental Laboratory Certification Program (ELCP) were found by the US-EPA to be a suitable replacement.
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  • Are NELAP laboratories required to do the PTs in the NJ program that are above and beyond the TNI field of Proficiency testing to maintain accreditation?
  • ANSWER:A NELAP laboratory will maintain its accreditation for these parameters without doing the PT samples.  However, in order to report data to NJ for compliance purposes, the laboratory must analyze and pass one PT per year in the NJ program that are above and beyond the Field of Proficiency Testing.
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  • Why did I fail my SDW Microbiology samples if I passed either Total or Fecal Coliform?
  • ANSWER:A laboratory must pass the SDW Microbiology PT for both Total Coliform and Fecal Coliform or E. Coli to perform Total Coliform analysis.
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  • I don’t perform analysis using a particular method that I hold certification for, do I have to analyze a PT?
  • ANSWER: You must analyze a PT for any method where a PT is required if you are listed in certified status, regardless of whether testing is currently being conducted using that method.
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  • Will the OQA accept PT data from other PT providers?
  • ANSWER:No, the Department will only accept PT data from the PT providers listed under the approved P T  provider section.
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  • What analytes/parameters do I need to report PT data for?
  • ANSWER:You must report PT data for all parameters in which you hold certification, that are listed on the Parameter Table attached to the PT letter.   Additionally, laboratories are required to report drinking water PTs for every analyte by each technology and method in which they hold certification.
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  • Does NJ want a copy of my PT data?
  • ANSWER:No, copies of PT results are provided directly to the Department by the approved PT provider(s).  However, the laboratory must specifically request that the PT provider submit results to the Department.
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  • When do I report my PT data?
  • ANSWER:The reporting deadlines for each PT study are specific to that study.  Please reference the presorting instructions sent with the PTs from the PT provider.  Note that if you are receiving PTs from more than one provider, the PT due date may be different for each provider.
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  • If my NJDEP-certified laboratory is not performing regulatory analyses for the NJDEP, must I use a certified laboratory?
  • ANSWER: If the analyses being performed are for research or other non-regulatory purposes, the New Jersey Laboratory Certification Regulations, N.J.A.C., do not require the use of a certified laboratory.
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  • If I am using field analytical methods such as immunoassay and XRF for waste site characterization, must I be certified?
  • ANSWER: No as of July 2003, but the Department expects to announce new initiatives for the remediation of hazardous waste sites that will require any entity performing field analytical measurements by; Immunoassay, Field portable gas chromatography, Field portable gas chromatography, or Field portable x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, to be certified for those methods.
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  • Who should develop a Qulity Assurance Program Plan (QAPP)?
  • ANSWER: Any person or group collecting samples for the measurement of chemical and/or biological parameters should develop a Quality Assurance Program Plan (QAPP) prior to sampling. Staff of the OQA can assist in developing and/or reviewing QAPPs.
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  • Who has responsibility to insure that QAPPs are carried out as approved?
  • ANSWER: The organization conducting the project. The OQA can assist in helping to evaluate if the QAPP is being followed.
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  • What is a New Jersey Quantitation Limit (NJQL)? How does the NJQL differ from the Practical Quantitation Limit (PQL) or other method limit terms?
  • ANSWER: The Department is proposing to adopt NJQLs at N.J.A.C. 7:18-11. NJQLs are being created to establish a level that can be achieved by the current analytical capabilities of the New Jersey certified laboratory community. The NJQL is defined the lowest level of a substance that can be reliably measured during routine laboratory operations. The Department is proposing the use of NJQLs to assure the reliability of measurements related to assessment of water quality and compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. It is intended that NJQLs will be utilized as compliance levels when regulatory requirements, such as NJPDES permit discharge limitations, are not set at levels below what can accurately and routinely quantified. NJQLs are calculated by taking the Method Detection Limit, the lowest value that can be distinguished from 0, and multiplying that value by 5. The NJQL is the same concept as the PQL, except the NJQL will be derived from data only from NJDEP-certified analytical laboratories.
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  • Can laboratories use Freon 113 for Oil and Grease (O&G) and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon (TPH) analyses?
  • ANSWER: Yes, The laboratories may use recycled Freon or Freon manufactured before December 31, 2001.
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  • Is there a replacement method for EPA 413.1 for O & G
  • ANSWER: Yes, EPA method 1664A N-Hexane Extractable Material (HEM; Oil and Grease) is a replacement for EPA method 413.1. Because the solvent is changed from Freon to n-hexane the material extracted may be different. The biggest differences are seen with the analysis of animal and vegetable oil discharges. A side by side comparison study should be done.
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  • Is there a replacement method for EPA 418.1 for TPH?
  • ANSWER: No, There is no direct replacement for EPA method 418.1 THP. The 418.1 method extracts a wide range of petroleum molecular weights (carbon numbers), possibly C-8 to C-70. There are GC methods using various solvents that can determine petroleum hydrocarbons i.e. EPA SHW method 8015B DRO, (C-12 to C-28); NJ-DEP OQA-QAM-025 (C-8 to C-40).
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  • Can EPA Method 1664 replace EPA Method 418.1?
  • ANSWER: No, Method 418.1 uses IR detection. In method 1664A SGT-HEM the extract is heated at 85o C to remove the solvent before determining NMP. Lower boiling THP are lost. The carbon range for the method is not known.
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  • Must wastewater samples be distilled before measuring NH3 by ion-selective electrode?
  • ANSWER: Yes, in 40 CFR 136 all the determinative methods for ammonia are listed under ammonia distillation. Therefore, the strict interpretation requires the distillation of all wastewater samples. If a routine sample can be shown to be free from interferences, distillation is not required. The laboratory must have side by side historical comparison data with and without distillation to prove that interferences are not present.
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  • How do I obtain copies of the analytical methods?
  • ANSWER: The internet has become an excellent resource for official methods, including the US EPA web pages. The most usable and complete example is probably the National Environmental Methods Index (NEMI), a joint effort of EPA and USGS. This index is free and searchable by source [for example Hach, or Standard Methods], instrumentation, keyword such as analyte name or CAS number or method number, and so forth. It includes regulatory and non-regulatory analyses. Searches typically yield lists, and then single-page method summaries with hot links to sources.
  • Frequently a method is available as a .pdf file, which can be downloaded or printed. Government sources tend to be free, whereas there are generally fees at some commercial sites.
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  • Can I purchase the dilution/rinse water for use in microbiological testing?
  • ANSWER: N.J.A.C. 7:18-4.5(c)4 specifies analytical requirements for rinse water. Many laboratories purchase dilution/rinse water for use in microbiological testing. Though this is acceptable, it is the responsibility of the laboratory to ensure that the appropriate testing is conducted on the water. If the testing is not conducted by the manufacturer, it must be conducted by the laboratory. As it is not standard practice for all manufacturers to conduct this testing, a laboratory should contact their provider to determine whether the testing was conducted and that the company supplying the water meets the requirements of the rules. Specifically, the laboratory must request assurance from the provider that:
    • Only reagent grade water obtained from a still or deionization unit is used as the "source water" to make the dilution / rinse water (phosphate buffer).
    • Each batch or lot of the source water must be tested for metals and bacteriological quality.
    • The laboratory using the pre-purchased ready to use dilution/rinse water is responsible for testing monthly: heterotrophic bacteria, conductivity and chlorine residual if the source water to the still or deionization unit is chlorinated.
  • Records of the required analyses must be on file at the laboratory for each batch or lot of dilution/rinse water used, regardless of who conducted the testing.
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Last Updated: May 30, 2014