Quality assurance in the view of a commercial analytical laboratory
The necessity for analytical quality assurance is primarily a feature of the analytical process itself. With the full establishment of the EU domestic market, it is also becoming a legal necessity for an increasing number of analytical laboratories. The requirements which laboratories will need to fulfil are stipulated in DIN EN 45 001. Accredited testing laboratories must in fact provide evidence that they work solely in accordance with this standard. National and EU commissions, which are legislative authorities, tend therefore to specify analytical methods, e.g. in the form of regulations or appendices thereto, intended to ensure that results from different laboratories will be comparable and hence will stand up in a court of law. The analytical quality assurance system (AQS), introduced by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for the Environment in 1984, obliges laboratories to regularly participate in collaborative studies and thereby demonstrate their ability to provide suitably accurate analyses. This alone, however, does not sufficiently demonstrate the competence of a laboratory. Only personal appraisal of the laboratory by an auditor, together with the successful analysis of a sample provided by the same and performed under his observation, can provide proof of the competence of the laboratory. From an analytical point of view, the competence of a laboratory must be regarded as the decisive factor. Competence can only be attained through analytical quality assurance, which thus must be demanded of all laboratories.