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Choosing a Quality Laboratory

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Make sure your environmental testing laboratory checks all these boxes.

Kimberly Banks, Strategic Sales and Marketing, Eurofins Calscience

Each day critical decisions are made based upon data generated by environmental laboratories. Careful selection of laboratories and analytical methods is critical to the success of your project, both in terms of quality and cost. Many routine laboratory procedures may not be able to support your data quality needs and/or report data to low enough limits to support decisions for your specific Data Quality Objectives (DQOs). The actual cost of working with a lab goes well beyond a simple unit rate, with possible undisclosed fees and potential cost to the client if the laboratory fails to deliver on-time or cannot meet DQOs, and in the worst case scenario, the data is not legally defensible.

When selecting a laboratory it is important to consider:

  • Does the laboratory have NELAP accreditation? Many states, independent of size, also participate in NELAP (National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program). This program attempts to ensure a national uniformity in accreditations (similar in intent to certifications), and involves a more detailed review than that provided historically by many state certification programs.
  • Has the laboratory successfully analyzed all recent performance evaluation (PE) samples?
  • Does the laboratory have a written Quality Assurance (QA) Manual, and is it adequate to meet your project’s data quality needs?
  • Does the laboratory have written standard operation procedures (SOPs) for all of its operations?
  • Does the laboratory have the capacity to handle your samples and analyses on the schedule you need?
  • Do they have sufficient instruments (and back-up instruments in case of instrument failure) and personnel to handle the anticipated sample load?
  • Does the lab have experience with  the sample media/matrices to be submitted?
  • Can they meet holding-time requirements for methods with short holding times?
  • What QA/QC samples are included and what QC samples require a charge (Matrix Spikes, Duplicates, etc)? Decisions regarding the type and frequency of QA/QC samples to use in a project should be made during the project planning stage when a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) or Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) is prepared.
  • What support services does the laboratory provide and is it included in the cost? Do they offer shipment of coolers, chain-of-custody forms, free pre-cleaned/certified sample bottles and preservatives, courier service, etc. Does the laboratory have staff available to receive samples after hours or on Saturdays?
  • Are there legal considerations to the data, if so does the laboratory have a well-documented, internal chain-of-custody system?
  • What are their Standard Terms & Conditions?
  • What are the contents of their typical laboratory report? Ensure the laboratory will  be able to provide the information you will need.
  • Does the laboratory provide a timely review of CoC documents against the project requirements and offer sample receipt confirmation to document delivery and order details?
  • What is their Sample retention and disposal policy, are there associated fees?
  • Will any of the analyses be subcontracted, if so have they pre-qualified the laboratories to ensure they can meet all of the same DQOs?
  • Does the laboratory have a system in place to track, store, and archive raw data and old data reports
  • Will you have an experienced and dedicated Project Manager to be your key point of contact?

Good planning results in more reliable and defensible data, less resampling and lower cost.

Communicate all pertinent information to the laboratory to ensure that the laboratory can meet the DQOs and provide accurate pricing:

  • Remediation goals/permit limits
  • Target analytes (constituents of concern)
  • Regulatory program/oversight agency
  • Logistics (location, sampling duration)
  • Turn-around time
  • Data reporting requirements 
  • Contractual/MSA requirements
  • Certification requirements
  • Project specific QAPPs/SAPs

Eurofins Calscience is prepared to support your next analytical project of any scope or complexity.

Our customers know that our full-service laboratory will allow them to run their projects more efficiently, save labor hours and provide data and information when they need it and how they need it. Stability, integrity and service; these are but a few of the reasons Eurofins Calscience is valued by our clients and why they keep coming back.

Want more details? Contact Eurofins Calscience today to get started.

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