Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 1. Administration
Agency 30. Department of General Services
Chapter 45. Certification for Noncommercial Environmental Laboratories

1VAC30-45-730. Test methods and standard operating procedures.

A. Methods documentation.

1. The laboratory shall have documented instructions on the use and operation of all relevant equipment, on the handling and preparation of samples, and for calibration or testing, where the absence of such instructions could jeopardize the calibrations or tests.

2. All instructions, standards, manuals, and reference data relevant to the work of the laboratory shall be maintained up to date and be readily available to the staff.

B. Standard operating procedures (SOPs).

1. Laboratories shall maintain SOPs that accurately reflect all phases of current laboratory activities such as assessing data integrity, corrective actions, handling customer complaints, and all test methods. These documents, for example, may be equipment manuals provided by the manufacturer or internally written documents. The test methods may be copies of published methods as long as any changes or selected options in the methods are documented and included in the laboratory methods manual.

2. The SOPs shall be organized. Each SOP shall clearly indicate the effective date of the document, the revision number, and the signature or signatures of the responsible laboratory manager or managers.

3. Copies of all SOPs shall be accessible to all personnel.

C. SOPs for laboratory methods.

1. The laboratory shall have and maintain an SOP for each certified analyte or test method.

2. This SOP may be a copy of a published or referenced method or may be written by the laboratory. In cases where modifications to the published method have been made by the laboratory or where the referenced test method is ambiguous or provides insufficient detail, these changes or clarifications shall be clearly described. Each test method shall include or reference where applicable:

a. Identification of the test method;

b. Applicable matrix or matrices;

c. Limits of detection or quantitation;

d. Scope and application, including parameters to be analyzed;

e. Summary of the test method;

f. Definitions;

g. Interferences;

h. Safety;

i. Equipment and supplies;

j. Reagents and standards;

k. Sample collection, preservation, shipment, and storage;

l. Quality control;

m. Calibration and standardization;

n. Procedure;

o. Data analysis and calculations;

p. Method performance;

q. Pollution prevention;

r. Data assessment and acceptance criteria for quality control measures;

s. Corrective actions for out-of-control data;

t. Contingencies for handling out-of-control or unacceptable data;

u. Waste management;

v. References; and

w. Any tables, diagrams, flowcharts, and validation data.

D. Test methods.

1. Laboratories shall use (i) promulgated test methods in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations; (ii) test methods stated in any current permit issued by the State Air Pollution Control Board, the Virginia Waste Management Board, or the State Water Control Board; or (iii) alternate test procedures approved by the board issuing the permit or the Department of Environmental Quality, including applicable quality assurance requirements, and sample preservation, container, storage, and holding time requirements.

2. The laboratory shall use appropriate test methods and procedures for all tests and related activities within its responsibility (including sample handling, transport and storage, preparation, and analysis). The method and procedures shall be consistent with the accuracy required and with any standard specifications relevant to the calibrations or tests concerned.

3. When the use of reference test methods for a sample analysis is mandated, only those methods shall be used.

4. Where test methods are employed that are not required, as in the Performance Based Measurement System approach, the methods shall be fully documented and validated (see subsection E of this section).

E. Demonstration of capability.

1. Prior to acceptance and institution of any test method, satisfactory initial demonstration of method capability is required. In general, this demonstration does not test the performance of the method in real world samples, but in the applicable and available clean quality system matrix sample (a quality system matrix in which no target analytes or interferences are present at concentrations that impact the results of a specific test method), for example, drinking water, solids, biological tissue, and air. Laboratories shall follow the procedure in subsection F of this section to demonstrate capability.

2. Thereafter, ongoing demonstration of method performance, such as laboratory control samples, is required.

3. In cases where a laboratory analyzes samples using a test method that has been in use by the laboratory for at least one year prior to applying for certification, and there have been no significant changes in instrument type, personnel or test method, the continuing demonstration of method performance and the analyst's documentation of continued proficiency shall be acceptable. The laboratory shall have records on file to demonstrate that an initial demonstration of capability is not required.

4. In cases where a laboratory analyzes samples using a test method that has not been in use by an individual in the laboratory for at least one 12-month period, another successful demonstration of capability in accordance with subsection F of this section shall be required for that individual to resume testing by the method.

5. In all cases, the laboratory shall document each demonstration of capability as required by subsection G of this section.

6. The laboratory shall complete a demonstration of capability each time there is a change in instrument type, personnel or test method, including the addition of an analyte to a certified test method.

F. Procedure for demonstration of capability. The following steps shall be performed for mandated test methods. However, before any results are reported using this method, actual sample spike results may be used to meet this standard (i.e., at least four consecutive matrix spikes within the last 12 months). For analytes that do not lend themselves to spiking (e.g., TSS) the demonstration of capability may be performed using quality control samples. The laboratory may document that other approaches to demonstration of capability are adequate. This documentation shall be included in the laboratory's quality manual:

1. A quality control (QC) sample may be obtained from an outside source or may be prepared by the laboratory using alternate source stock standards that are prepared independently from those used in instrument calibration.

2. The analyte or analytes shall be diluted in a volume of clean quality system matrix sufficient to prepare four aliquots at the concentration specified, or if unspecified, to a concentration of one to four times the limit of quantitation.

3. At least four aliquots shall be prepared and analyzed according to the test method either concurrently or over a period of days.

4. Using all of the results, calculate the mean recovery in the appropriate reporting units (such as g/L) and the standard deviations of the population sample (n-1) (in the same units) for each parameter of interest. When it is not possible to determine mean and standard deviations, such as for presence or absence of the analyte and logarithmic values, the laboratory shall assess performance against established and documented criteria.

5. Compare the information from subdivision 4 of this subsection to the corresponding acceptance criteria for precision and accuracy in the test method (if applicable) or in laboratory-generated acceptance criteria (if there are not established mandatory criteria). If all parameters meet the acceptance criteria, the analysis of actual samples may begin. If any one of the parameters do not meet the acceptance criteria, the performance is unacceptable for that parameter.

6. When one or more of the tested parameters fail at least one of the acceptance criteria, the analyst shall proceed according to either subdivision 6 a or 6 b of this subsection.

a. Locate and correct the source of the problem and repeat the test for all parameters of interest beginning with subdivision 3 of this subsection.

b. Beginning with subdivision 3 of this subsection, repeat the test for all parameters that failed to meet criteria. Repeated failure, however, confirms a general problem with the measurement system. If this occurs, locate and correct the source of the problem and repeat the test for all compounds of interest beginning with subdivision 3 of this subsection.

G. Documentation of demonstration of capability. The laboratory shall document each demonstration of capability so that the following information shall be readily available for each employee:

1. Analyst or analysts involved in preparation and analysis.

2. Matrix.

3. Analytes, class of analytes, measured parameters, or organisms.

4. Identification of methods performed.

5. Identification of laboratory-specific SOP used for analysis, including revision number.

6. Date of analysis.

7. All raw data necessary to reconstruct and validate the analyses.

8. Data evaluation required by subsection F of this section.

H. Sample aliquots. Where sampling (as in obtaining sample aliquots from a submitted sample) is carried out as part of the test method, the laboratory shall use documented procedures and appropriate techniques to obtain representative subsamples.

I. Data verification. Calculations and data transfers shall be subject to appropriate checks. The laboratory shall establish standard operating procedures to ensure that (i) the reported data are free from transcription and calculation errors and (ii) all quality control measures are reviewed and evaluated before data are reported. The laboratory also shall establish standard operating procedures addressing manual calculations including manual integrations.

J. Documentation and labeling of standards and reagents. Documented procedures shall exist for the reception and storage of consumable materials used for the technical operations of the laboratory.

1. The laboratory shall retain records for all standards, reagents, reference materials, and media including the manufacturer/vendor, the manufacturer's Certificate of Analysis or purity (if available), the date of receipt, recommended storage conditions, and an expiration date after which the material shall not be used unless its reliability is verified by the laboratory.

2. Original containers (such as provided by the manufacturer or vendor) shall be labeled with an expiration date if this date is provided by the manufacturer or vendor.

3. Records shall be maintained on standard and reference material preparation. These records shall indicate traceability to purchased stocks or neat compounds, reference to the method of preparation, date of preparation, expiration date and preparer's initials.

4. Sufficient identification of containers of prepared reagents and standards shall be provided to ensure proper performance of tests.

K. Computers and electronic data related requirements. Where computers, automated equipment or microprocessors are used for the capture, processing, manipulation, recording, reporting, storage or retrieval of test data, the laboratory shall ensure the following:

1. Computer software developed by the user is documented in sufficient detail and is suitably validated as being adequate for use.

2. Procedures are established and implemented for protecting the integrity of data, such as integrity of data entry or capture, data storage, data transmission and data processing.

3. Computer and automated equipment are maintained to ensure proper functioning and provided with the environmental and operating conditions necessary to maintain the integrity of calibration and test data.

4. Appropriate procedures are established and implemented for the maintenance of security of data including the prevention of unauthorized access to, and the unauthorized amendment of, computer records.

Statutory Authority

§ 2.2-1105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 25, Issue 7, eff. January 1, 2009; amended, Virginia Register Volume 32, Issue 22, eff. September 1, 2016; Volume 38, Issue 12, eff. April 1, 2022.

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