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Over the past few years there has been an increasing tendency to question the results of scientific work, including analytical measurements. There has always been some review by our scientific peers, but we are now finding that we must justify quality to the public as well. This is not unreasonable since they are usually paying for the work either as consumers or as taxpayers, and any analytical laboratory should be able to stand behind the quality of its work.
The Environmental Measurements Laboratory (formerly the Health and Safety Laboratory) has had a formal quality-control program since 1960. This has been used for both internal analyses and for measurements performed under contract to commercial laboratories. The program has consisted of submitting from 10 to 15 percent of the samples in the form of standards, blanks, or blind duplicates. In almost all cases, the analyst is not aware of which samples are the quality-control samples. The results of this program are published annually in our Environmental Quarterly so that those that use our data can recognize the quality of the analytical work.
The benefits of this program have been an increase in confidence by the data users and a sense of pride in the analyst for having produced useful measurements. In addition, problems of calibration drift, operator performance, and inadequacy of methods can be recognized at a reasonably early stage and the necessary corrective action taken.
The paper includes extensive data presentations covering-quality control samples, calibrations, and participation in intercomparisons.
radiation, environments, quality control, intercomparisons, radio-chemical analysis
Director, Environmental Measurements Laboratory, U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, New York, N.Y.