Laboratory accreditation: Proof of performance for environmental laboratories—2001 study
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“Do accredited environmental laboratories actually perform better?” The Canadian Association for Environmental Analytical Laboratories (CAEAL) attempted to answer this question in a 1997 article entitled “Laboratory Accreditation: Proof of Performance for Environmental Labs” (Canadian Chemical News, September 1997). Since that time we have received numerous requests to repeat the performance comparison. Since we now have data from additional years of proficiency testing (PT) studies, we have repeated the original study. CAEAL is committed to working with the laboratory community and their clients to achieve and demonstrate the value of implementing the highest quality standards in Canadian environmental laboratories. To this end, CAEAL and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) jointly deliver an accreditation program for environmental laboratories in Canada. The accreditation program is based on ISO/IEC 17025 “General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories”. Laboratory performance for many accredited parameters is evaluated through interlaboratory PT, and laboratory capability is assessed every 2 years by a laboratory site assessment covering the lab’s quality system and its technical capabilities for the specific tests. By mid 2001, more than 120 environmental labs were participating in the joint SCC/CAEAL accreditation program, representing about 38% of all labs accredited by the SCC for all areas of testing. Another 160 to 170 labs are involved in only PT, making a total of 270 to 280 labs in CAEAL’s PT program.