EPA Intercalibration Programme

 

Background

How does the programme operate

Register of quality approved laboratories

How to participate

 

The Intercalibration Programme, which has been in operation since 1993, is designed to ensure that laboratories that provide, either directly or indirectly, water chemistry data to the EPA meet the necessary performance standards. 

Background

Section 66 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 provides for the EPA to:

  • establish, or arrange for the establishment of, an analytical quality control programme for the purposes of assessing analytical performance and ensuring the validity and comparability of environmental data;
  • impose charges for participation by laboratories in such a programme;
  • maintain a register of laboratories which comply with the requirements of programme.

 

The EPA Intercalibration Programme is the only Irish scheme for the chemical testing of water samples listed on the INAB website detailing Proficiency Testing (PT) Providers. The programme was established to operate in accordance with ISO Guide 43 “Proficiency testing by Interlaboratory Comparisons” (since revised by ISO 17043:2010) and is recognised by INAB in terms of suitability as a PT scheme for the participating laboratories as part of their accreditation status. The programme is also the only Irish scheme listed on the European Proficiency Testing Information System (EPTIS) database  

 

How does the programme operate?

 

The programme includes the following main elements:

  • The preparation and managed distribution of five categories of test samples up to five times (rounds) per year to the participating laboratories;
  • The subsequent assessment of the returned data and the issuing of a report to the participants after each round;
  • The preparation of an annual register of laboratories which have submitted satisfactory returns to the programme.

 

The programme covers various water chemistry parameters which are detailed in Figure 1.

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Figure 1: Current parameters in EPA Intercalibration Programme (BOD, biochemical oxygen demand; COD, chemical oxygen demand).

 

Register of quality approved laboratories

A register of quality approved laboratories which would normally be expected to send data to the EPA has been established. Inclusion in the register is based on performance in the programme during the previous calendar year.  The register is updated annually.

For a laboratory to be included on the register they must meet the following criteria for each parameter (based on five rounds per annum):

  • Four satisfactory returns from five; or
  • Three consecutive satisfactory returns; or
  • Current laboratory accreditation.
  • The criteria for pH as above but three returns within 0.20 pH units of reference concentration and one return within 0.30 units.

The Register of Quality Approved Laboratories can be found here.

 

How to participate

To participate in the programme or for further information please contact us at intercal@epa.ie