The National Institute of Standards and Technology today announced draft guidelines to accredit commercial vendors to evaluate drinking and wastewater analysis laboratories.
Rather than continuing to monitor the proficiency of water testing laboratories itself, as it has done for many years, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is allowing commercial and state laboratories to conduct proficiency testing with oversight from NIST and the EPA.
NIST today provided guidelines for accrediting commercial vendors and interested states that wish to provide proficiency testing for laboratories testing drinking water and wastewater. The draft handbook, "Chemical Calibration: Providers of Proficiency Testing," covers the technical requirements of this program. The draft also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.cstl.nist.gov/nist839 . Draft copies also can be requested by sending a fax to (301) 926-8671. NIST will accept public comments on the draft until April 30, 1998. The handbook outlines how commercial and state laboratories can demonstrate their capabilities and technical competence to perform proficiency testing studies that meet state and EPA requirements.
It is expected that prospective proficiency testing study providers will be able to apply for accreditation from NIST's National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program beginning in June 1998. Accreditation will take approximately six months, so the first accredited providers may begin to conduct proficiency testing studies as early as January 1999. After evaluating the performance of water testing laboratories, the proficiency testing providers will report results to the appropriate government agencies.
As part of the accreditation process, NIST will conduct onsite audits, test randomly selected proficiency testing samples from the providers, and review summaries of client data from each commercial lot. In addition to accrediting proficiency testing providers, and of critical importance, NIST will provide Standard Reference Materials and protocols to assist commercial and state providers in assigning accurate concentration values for their proficiency testing samples that are traceable to national standards.
These proficiency testing studies will serve as one component of the overall federal effort to continue to assure accuracy in chemical, radiological and toxicological measurements required by the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Questions concerning the NIST role in this overall effort should be sent to Reenie Parris, B158 Chemistry Building, NIST, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-0001, or reenie.parris [at] nist.gov.
An agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.