NIST currently coordinates quality assurance programs that participants use to identify and understand community-wide measurement challenges, improve the accuracy of their measurements, and demonstrate an effort to comply with various regulations. These programs offer the opportunity for laboratories to assess their in-house measurements, and participation in a quality assurance program in conjunction with the use of SRMs has been shown to improve the comparability and precision of data over time.
NIST has extensive experience in the administration of interlaboratory comparisons and quality assurance programs. For more information, please see our listing of historical programs. While quality assurance programs are conducted similarly to proficiency testing (PT), NIST programs are not PT and are not designed to pass strict evaluation of laboratory performance. While proof of participation in NIST QAPs may be adequate to demonstrate proficiency in some communities, the use and distribution of each participant’s study results for this purpose will be at the discretion of the participant only.
NIST has established a Health Assessment Measurements Quality Assurance Program (HAMQAP), in part as a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Participants measure concentrations of nutritional and toxic elements, fat- and water-soluble vitamins, fatty acids, active and/or marker compounds, and contaminants in samples distributed by NIST. Samples that represent human intake (e.g., foods, dietary supplements, tobacco) are paired with samples that represent human output (e.g., blood, serum, plasma, urine), and analytes are paired where possible to represent the full spectrum of health assessment. Participant data is compiled at NIST and analyzed for accuracy, precision, and concordance within the community. Reports and certificates of completion are sent to participants, and workshops and webinars are held to discuss results as well as methodological advancements in the area of health assessment measurements. The HAMQAP represents ongoing efforts previously supported via historical QA programs, such as the Dietary Supplements Laboratory QAP, Micronutrients Measurement QAP, Fatty Acids in Human Serum and Plasma QAP, and Vitamin D Metabolites QAP.
Starting in 1987 NIST has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)(link is external) to underpin measurements made on the marine environment. These program resulted from a collaboration between the National Marine Fisheries Office of Protected Species Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP)(link is external) and NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS)(link is external). The collaboration with the MMHSRP has continued since 1987 while the collaboration with NOS was continuously supported by the NOS National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) National Status and Trends Program(link is external) through 2007. NIST continues to provide quality assurance services for NOAA NOS through its participation in the Hollings Marine Laboratory (HML) partnership in the form of training and technology transfer. For MMHSRP, NIST provides protocols for the collection, processing, and banking of marine mammal tissue and fluids and archives them in its specimen bank facility at the HML. NIST also administers both formal interlaboratory comparison exercises and informal interlaboratory studies to aid in the harmonization of measurements made on marine mammals for assessing exposure, stock assessment, and health.
CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT: It is our policy that participants' laboratory identification numbers remain confidential and known only to them and ourselves.