Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program

Frequently Asked Questions


on this page:
Registration or Accreditation
Application Renewals
Submitting Documents
Proficiency Testing
Assessments

2003 NELAC Standard Interpretations
(Interpretations to the national standards are available on the TNI webpage)

Registration or Accreditation

Should I apply for accreditation or registration?

A laboratory that performs methods for Safe Drinking Water Program compliance must maintain MDH Environmental Laboratory Accreditation per Minn. Statutes 144.98 and 40 CFR 141. In mid-September 2012, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) communicated they will have a process in place to register Minnesota non-commercial laboratories that perform testing for NPDES compliance by November 1, 2012. MNELAP continues to offer accreditation to the national environmental standard for state and federal environmental programs including testing required by the Underground Storage Tank Program, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act for laboratories of all types. If desired, a MPCA-registered laboratory is welcome to seek accreditation with MNELAP to maintain a certificate issued in accordance to the national environmental laboratory standard.

All laboratory registration questions should be directed to the MPCA.

How do I know if the MPCA’s new registration applies to my laboratory?

All laboratory registration questions will need to be directed to the MPCA.

Why would I want to maintain MNELAP Accreditation if I qualify for MPCA registration?

The Minnesota Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Accreditation program (MN- ELAP) has been in place since 1989 to ensure laboratories submit reliable, consistent, and defensible data to Minnesota’s various environmental programs. MN-ELAP maintains a nationally accredited quality system that is used to consistently apply the national standard requirements and enforcement activities across all types of laboratories (e.g. commercial, municipal, industrial) to ensure data of known and documented quality. Implementation of the national standard requires laboratories to establish a quality system that enables laboratories to monitor and maintain the quality of their data on a continuous basis. MNELAP staff can assist laboratories by providing training and guidance, while the accreditation process assures data users that the laboratory has successfully implemented the quality system guidelines and is capable of producing reliable and defensible data.

In addition, MNELAP assessors are certified to assess to the national standard and have obtained several EPA, APHL, TNI, and vendor training certificates for method specific requirements. The program’s operations and its staff qualifications undergo a rigorous external review to monitor
conformance and consistency with the national standard. This ensures that laboratories are provided with clear and unambiguous guidance with regard to the accreditation requirements, and that they are assessed in a fair and unbiased manner.

Do I need to pay fees for both accreditation and registration of my lab?

The accreditation fees are established in Minn. Statutes 144.98 and are assessed through the legislative process. Laboratories that are accredited by MDH must pay the accreditation fee for whichever fields of testing they seek accreditation. Laboratories must contact MPCA for requirements regarding registration fees and policies.

If I am accredited by MDH and registered by MPCA, will MDH still help me with laboratory
questions?

Yes, MDH will continue to provide MNELAP-accredited laboratories with compliance assistance, training materials, ELDO support, and implementation tools. Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide one-on-one assistance to laboratories that no longer maintain MNELAP accreditation. MPCA-registered laboratories will need to contact their NPDES permit compliance officer for assistance.

I submitted my renewal application and fees but later received a notification from MPCA about the registration program. Can I get a refund?

No, MDH is prohibited from returning fees collected for compliance with a state law. (The fees are non-refundable per Minn. Statutes 144.98.)

The MPCA informed MDH in mid-September that they would be starting a registration program for municipal labs. MDH notified the MPCA leadership about the timing (labs renewing accreditation in October) and provided a distribution list of accredited labs so that MPCA could ensure all laboratories were informed of the new MPCA policy before submitting a request for renewal.

Application Renewals

How will I know MNELAP received my application?

The laboratory’s ELDO account will indicate within the application and document modules that the application has been sent successfully. Completed applications are processed in the order in which they are received by MNELAP. A completed application includes the following: electronic ELDO application, documents (e.g. SOPs, MDLs/RLs, certificates), and fees. A member of the MNELAP team will contact you by phone or email if you are missing application materials.

Do I need to respond to my assessment report before I submit my renewal application?

Yes, if your laboratory received the assessment report more than 30 days prior to the date you submitted your application. If your laboratory received an assessment report less than 30 days prior to your application submittal or the application approval by MNELAP, then your laboratory may use the full 30 days to prepare a response to the assessment report.

MNELAP reviews assessment findings and enforcement actions as part of the application renewal cycle. During this review, MNELAP will determine if the assessment report findings and pending response and timeline impacts your continued accreditation. MNELAP will contact the lab if concerns arise during the review.

My account is locked. How can I access the ELDO system?

If you entered a security question and answer for your account, please use the password reminder button on the ELDO login screen to receive a password reminder and reset your password. If you did not enter a security answer, please contact a MNELAP assessor at 651-201-5200 to re-set your account. Please call us if you misplaced your username or if your account remains locked after repeated attempts to login.

For compliance with the electronic signature provisions in Minn. Statutes, users of the ELDO system are prohibited from sharing their account information with others. MNELAP requires a username and password combination attributable to one person rather than one login associated with a group of persons at the laboratory.

Submitting Documents

Do I need to upload my revised documents before I submit my application?

No, please submit the lab’s renewal application through the ELDO application module and then submit documents through the ELDO documents module.  The laboratory is required to upload new or revised documents within 30 days of the implemented change. A member of the MNELAP team will contact you by phone or email if you are missing application and document materials.

Proficiency Testing

I do not see my PT results in the ELDO system. Why are they missing?

Please ensure the laboratory follows the following steps:

  1. Select a vendor on the approved list published by MNELAP.
  2. Report the PT results using the analyte codes and method codes on your scope of accreditation (codes are located within the ELDO system on the lab's general accreditation information list or on the MNELAP web page).
  3. Authorize the PT vendor to send the PT results directly to MNELAP.

Please note: The PT vendor does not directly upload data into the ELDO system. As a result, there is a delay in viewing the data as MNELAP staff works to manually review and associate fields of testing with the correct method codes on a lab-by-lab basis.

Assessments

My laboratory assessment is due this year. When will I be notified of the assessment date?

Minnesota Rules Chapter 4740.2050 states that MNELAP may notify the laboratory prior to the arrival at the laboratory or may conduct an inspection without prior notice. Assessments are conducted during business days and during routine hours of operation.


Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 05:17PM