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    Introduction to Laboratory Practices

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    Any compilation of knowledge represents a compromise, and the Manual on Industrial Water and Waste Water is no exception. It was prepared for maximum usefulness to the broadest segment of water analysts and to provide industrial management with background information. The technical ability and experience of analysts vary greatly. Success in using the methods will depend not only on detailed compliance with specified procedures but on proper preparation, general practices, and interpretation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide complete technical guidance with the methods. Consequently the “philosophy” of laboratory operation is an individualistic responsibility. Analytical methods may represent sound scientific principles and years of development, but if they are misused or misinterpreted the effort is wasted. Similarly, the most modern facilities and equipment do not insure analytical success if improperly used. Individual samples require individual selection of a sampling procedure, preservation and preparation, analytical methodology, operator skill, and the like. A review of some of these factors should be helpful to both the novice and the professional. Frequently there will be several choices of analytical methods. Should referee or non-referee methods be used? Referee methods generally are more exact, highly accurate, more complicated, time-consuming; require greater operator skill and more costly equipment; take greater preparation; cover a narrower range; and usually take longer to repeat. Non-referee methods may not be as precise, but they offer means for rapid estimation of constituents under many circumstances. They are shorter and less complicated, and they take less operator skill and simpler equipment. Unfortunately, it is impossible to anticipate all considerations, and the analyst must select the best method for his purpose. To do this he must have all the available facts, and he must understand the role of the analyses in the problem to be solved. The analyst should not cease to quest for new methods once he has found a satisfactory one. He is expected to contribute more than cookbook application of analytical schemes. Methods offering greater specificity and reliability are continually being developed. He should be aware of these, and evaluate and introduce them if they are improvements.

    Committee/Subcommittee: D19.03

    DOI: 10.1520/STP48513S