EPA Program Certifies Palau and Yap Water Quality Labs

The U.S. Freely Associated States Water Quality Laboratory Certification Program recently granted certification of water-quality laboratories for the Palau Environmental Quality Protection Board and the Yap State Environmental Protection Agency.

Both labs were certified to analyze drinking water for bacterial contamination and the Palau lab was also certified to analyze bacteria in marine water.

The certification program is specifically designed for water quality laboratories of the U.S. Freely Associated States, including the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The program is modeled after the U.S. EPA’s Laboratory Certification Program, which certifies labs in the states and territories.

“Certification of laboratory facilities and personnel is necessary to ensure that a laboratory produces scientifically valid and legally defensible data,” said John McCarroll, manger for the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Pacific Islands office. “This ensures that the data presented to the public is accurate, reliable, and protects people's health in these island nations.”

The U.S. EPA and the American Samoa EPA, CNMI DEQ, and Guam EPA run the certification program. The program was designed to provide extensive hands-on training, including reviews of testing procedures, record keeping, equipment maintenance, as labs in the freely-associated states do not have the resources available to them that state and territorial labs have.

Labs and personnel receive certification when they meet or exceed specific criteria established under the program. These include adequate lab space and facilities, a complement of functional and properly maintained basic equipment, adequate lab supplies, and rigorous quality control procedures.

To maintain certification, lab facilities must pass an on-site evaluation at least every two years, and must have a certified analyst on staff. To receive certification, analysts must successfully pass a written exam as well as a hands-on practical application of methods and procedures.

The Palau and Yap labs are the first labs to be certified under the new program. Certification audits for the Marshall Islands and the other FSM states are planned for 2008.

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