Public water providers in the United States are required to monitor their drinking water to determine if consumers are adequately protected from microbiological, chemical and radiochemical contaminants. Similarly, wastewater treatment facilities perform analysis to assure that the wastewater is properly treated to protect the environment from bacteria, pathogens and other pollutants.
The Hygienic Laboratory provides laboratory certification assessments and management for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. A laboratory is certified to perform a specific method for a specific analyte or analyte group. The program also provides the opportunity for a testing laboratory to become certified for a specific analyte group across multiple environmental programs. For example, a lab may acquire certification for inorganic chemicals (IOCs) within the wastewater, drinking water and contaminated sites programs.
The Environmental Laboratory Certification program provides oversight for 186 laboratories, including 32 out-of-state laboratories that may provide testing results for samples collected in Iowa. Approximately 110 labs are basic wastewater laboratories; the remaining are mid-to large-size labs providing testing for the Safe Drinking Water Act, National Pollution Discharge Elimination system programs and the Solid Waste/Contaminated Sites program.
Certification in Iowa is on a two-year cycle with most laboratories receiving an onsite inspection once during that two-year period. Some laboratories, especially out-of-state laboratories that are certified in their home state, can be certified based on reciprocity with their state's certification or accreditation in the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. Through reciprocity, a laboratory may not require an onsite inspection. In fiscal year 2013, 80 onsite visits were conducted by Hygienic Laboratory certification staff.