View the Latest News (MNELAP) - Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program - Minnesota Dept of Health

View the Latest News
(MNELAP)

Newsletters that provide the latest news for MNELAP, the environmental laboratory accreditation for the state of Minnesota.

News

Fall 2021

The EPA published the 2021 Method Update Rule (MUR) in May. These updates became effective July 19, 2021. The EPA finalized specific changes to analytical test procedures that laboratories use to analyze the chemical, physical, and biological components of wastewater and other environmental samples required by regulations under the Clean Water Act in 40 CFR part 136. Please visit the EPA’s MUR website for more information on specific changes.

The Expediated Approval of Alternative Test Procedures for the Analysis of Contaminants Under the Safe Drinking Water Act went into effect in April 2021. The EPA approved seventeen alternative test procedures for contaminants listed in the drinking water regulations. For more information, please see the EPA fact sheet (PDF).

MNELAP added many of the most requested fields of testing (FOT) from the two updates to our list of FOTs available for accreditation. If there is an approved method that your laboratory wishes to obtain accreditation, please let MNELAP know the fields of accreditation you would like MNELAP to consider adding to our list of available FOTs for accreditation.

Please verify with your contract, client, program, permit, or rule for the version of the method that is required for reporting compliance data.

Minnesota Department Health Drinking Water Protection Program requested MNELAP to add Nitrate-Nitrite as N as an available analyte under the Safe Drinking Water Program. MNELAP now has Nitrate as N (analyte code 1810), Nitrite as N (analyte code 1840), and Nitrate-Nitrite as N (analyte code 1820) available for accreditation under the Safe Drinking Water Program. The appropriate reporting of the analyte (Nitrate as N, Nitrite as N, or Nitrate-Nitrite as N) is based on sample preservation (i.e., iced, acidified) and the analytical method used. Analytical results for acidified samples represent Nitrate-Nitrite as N, acidified samples cannot be tested for individual Nitrate as N or Nitrite as N. Samples to be tested for Nitrate as N or Nitrite as N separately must be preserved at 4°C and not acidified.

Laboratories must ensure they are reporting the correct analyte form according to the preservation type, method used and any client contract requirements. Samples from new wells must be tested for Nitrate as N and require icing (PDF). For more information on Total Nitrate and Nitrite analysis for drinking water program compliance, please read the EPA memo (PDF).

MNELAP has made the following fields of testing available for laboratories wishing to apply for Nitrate-Nitrite as N during the renewal application period (October 2 – October 31).

Method
Reference
Method
Description
Method
Code
Category Analyte Analyte
Code
Program Matrix
EPA 353.2 Nitrate/Nitrite
Nitrogen -
Automated,
Cadmium
10067604 Inorganic
Chemistry
Nitrate-
nitrite as N
1820 Safe
Drinking
Water
Program
Drinking
Water
HACH
10206
(Rev 1.1)
Nitrate by
Dimethylphenol
with TNTplus
835/836
60005222 Inorganic
Chemistry
Nitrate-
nitrite as N
1820 Safe
Drinking
Water
Program
Drinking
Water

Please remember if this is a new safe drinking water method for your laboratory you must have a closed onsite assessment for this field of testing prior to application. If you would like to apply for an approved method to analyze Nitrate-Nitrite as N that is not currently available on our accredited list, please contact MNELAP.

The Environmental Laboratory Data Online (ELDO) system will be available for renewal applications beginning October 2, 2021. Per MN Statute 144.98, applications for renewal of accreditation must be received by November 1 of each year. Please plan accordingly to allow enough time for completing the online application form, uploading documents, and requesting payment from your financial office. MNELAP does not review applications until the laboratory delivers all required application information, fees, and documents. The estimated time to review a completed application and documentation is 60 days. The review time depends on the requested scope of tests and the organization, clarity and completeness of the materials submitted with the application. A late fee of $200 shall be added to the annual fee for accredited laboratories submitting renewal applications to the MNELAP after October 31. Application, fees, and required documentation not received by October 31st, could result in your laboratory’s accreditation to expire on December 31, 2021.

At this time, MNELAP has identified qualified applicants and determined the applicable category and matrices for each applicant assessor. MNELAP is in the process of developing the training materials for Minnesota specific requirements and Environmental Laboratory Data Online (ELDO). MNELAP plans to provide this training to the approved third party assessors in early January 2022, and then post the new assessors information on our approved assessor list (PDF).

The NELAC Institute (TNI) is now making available a training schedule each month for upcoming classes and new recorded webcasts.

Summer 2021

The ELDO application has been updated with over 100 new fields-of-testing (FOTs). The new FOTs include updated analyte and method codes to add additional PFAS analytes, methods and matrices. A change fee does not apply for applications to add fields of testing for new analytes in response to the official publication date of March 30, 2021 as listed in the Minnesota State Register, March 2021 (PDF) and per MN Statute 144.98.

If your laboratory is not sure of which method, analyte, program, or matrices that needs to be reported, you may wish to contact the state agency personnel or contract administrator responsible for reviewing data received from laboratories accredited by MNELAP.

If your laboratory needs accreditation for fields-of-testing or analytes that do not appear on the current FOT list (Excel), please send your request directly to MNELAP for review and processing.

The USEPA finalized the Method Update Rule (MUR) in May 2021. This rule approved new methods, or changes to existing methods, that affects over 100 EPA methods, Standard Methods, ASTM methods, and other test procedures in 40 CFR Part 136. The rule also contains a number of clarifications relating to approved methods, sample preservation and holding times, and method modifications. TNI is offering a training session on the 2021 MUR on June 18, 2021 for a fee. If you are interested in the course please register using the TNI registration link by Monday, June 14, 2021.

The USEPA has made the 2021 MUR effective in July 2021. MNELAP will be working with the MPCA to determine a timeline for offering the fields of testing, implementation in laboratories and the reporting of data per the updates.

The NELAC Institute (TNI) has worked to update the fields of proficiency testing (FoPT) tables and are effective on October 1, 2021. The updated NELAP FoPT of testing are available for review of changes and download on the TNI website for the fields of proficiency testing.

The laboratories that seek to obtain or maintain accreditation shall perform analyses of PT samples for each field of proficiency testing. PT samples shall be obtained from designated approved PT Providers. The laboratory shall obtain PT samples from any so approved PT Provider. The results of the analyses shall be submitted to the PT Provider for scoring.

MNELAP is now accepting third party assessor applications from individual assessors interested in performing MNELAP accredited environmental laboratory assessments for compliance with MN Statute 144.98, MN Rules, Chapter 4740, EPA Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water, Fifth Edition, 2016 TNI Standard, accredited methods and all relevant state and federal regulations. Interested parties can apply from May 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021. MNELAP will review applications for completeness and evaluate the supplied documentation for compliance with the 2016 TNI Standard V2M3 Section 4.0, EPA Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water, Fifth Edition, Section 4.1 and 4.2 (PDF), Supplement 1 to the Fifth Edition of the Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water (PDF), and Minnesota Statute 144.98 Subd. 12. Approved applicants must attend a MNELAP training session prior to MNELAP listing your name on the approved list of MNELAP assessors (PDF).

Spring 2021: Part Two

MNELAP is now accepting third party assessor applications from individual assessors interested in performing MNELAP accredited environmental laboratory assessments for compliance with MN Statute 144.98, MN Rules, Chapter 4740, EPA Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water, Fifth Edition, 2016 TNI Standard, accredited methods and all relevant state and federal regulations. Interested parties can apply from May 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021. MNELAP will review applications for completeness and evaluate the supplied documentation for compliance with the 2016 TNI Standard V2M3 Section 4.0, EPA Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water, Fifth Edition, Section 4.1 and 4.2 (PDF), Supplement 1 to the Fifth Edition of the Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water (PDF), and Minnesota Statute 144.98 Subd. 12. Approved applicants must attend a MNELAP training session prior to MNELAP listing your name on the approved list of MNELAP assessors (PDF).

On April 14, 2021 Governor Walz extended the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency declared in Executive Order 20-01 through Emergency Executive Order 21-19 (PDF) through May 14, 2021. MNELAP will continue a case-by-case basis review of delayed onsite assessments related to COVID-19, and the use of remote assessments.

MNELAP is committed to the health and safety of assessors and laboratory personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, especially with variant virus outbreaks. Thank you for patience and support as we have worked through the challenges of the last year. Please see the MNELAP webpage for COVID-19 information and updates.

Spring 2021

The Minnesota Department of Health reviews the list of analytes available for accreditation and publishes revisions to the list per Minnesota Statute 144.98. The department revises the list based on recommendations from state and federal agencies and accredited laboratories. The department reviewed the list of analytes and has added analytes not previous offered.

New analytes are listed with an official publication date of March 30, 2021 as provided by the Minnesota State Register, March 2021 (PDF). The revised list of Analytes available for accreditation by the department will be updated on the program website. Analytes will be listed by date of publication. To submit comments on the list or request additional information, please contact the Minnesota Laboratory Accreditation Program, 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55155, phone 651-201-5324 or by email at health.mnelap@state.mn.us.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has requested MNELAP to remove R2A media by Pour Plate in Standard Methods 9215B, and arsenic by EPA 200.7 for the analysis and reporting of drinking water samples under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). As a result, MNELAP will remove them from the list on September 1, 2021. Laboratories currently accredited for these FOTs must change their methods to an allowed method under the SDWA during the next renewal period. MNELAP will no longer grant laboratory requests to add the following fields of testing:

Method Reference Method Code Category Analyte Analyte Code Program Matrix
SM 9215 B (R2A)-94SM 9215 B (R2A)-94 20182609 Microbiology Heterotrophic plate count 2555 Safe Drinking Water Program Drinking Water
EPA 200.7 10013806 Metals Arsenic 1010 Safe Drinking Water Program Drinking Water

MNELAP plans to post the application for third party environmental laboratory assessors in April of 2021. In anticipation of applying, you may want to begin to gather the following documentation:

  • Proof of education;
  • Proof of Basic Assessor Training, and Refresher Assessor Training, if applicable;
  • Proof of EPA Certification Officer Training for each technical area requested on application;
  • Proof of technical and quality systems trainings; and
  • Assessment experience, including observed onsite assessment.

Fall 2020

The annual environmental laboratory application period begins each year in October. The laboratory information and applications are maintained and reviewed in the Environmental Laboratory Data Online (ELDO) system. Please verify the primary contact email address to ensure you receive automated messages throughout the year.

For on-demand ELDO training presentations visit the ELDO demonstration modules or review the ELDO user guide (PDF). If you have other questions or concern with ELDO or the annual renewal process, please contact us directly with at 651-201-5324.

Please ensure the laboratory managers associated as ELDO users with your laboratory are up-to-date and accurate. Please navigate to the reports section in ELDO and select lab manager users, review the list of names, and notify MNELAP of any users that need to be deactivated. This is important, as ELDO is a web based application and until a user is deactivated by MNELAP past approved users are able to access and edit your laboratory information.

The ELDO application has been updated with over 100 new fields-of-testing (FOT). The new FOTs include updated method codes to comply with TNI LAMs database, missed FOTs from past years (e.g. SM 9223B), corrected nitrogen forms, and updated method versions (e.g. EPA 525.3, EPA 537.1 and EPA 533). If your laboratory needs accreditation for fields-of-testing or analytes that do not appear on the current FOT list (Excel), please send your request directly to MNELAP for review and processing.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 requested that all USEPA Region 5 states issue accreditation for media individually and that the laboratory scope clearly indicates the reference method (i.e. SM 9223 B) and the media type (Colilert, Colilert-18 or Colisure). Therefore, MNELAP has updated ELDO to include fields of testing for SM 9223B (media type)-2016 (23rd Ed).

If applicable to your laboratory, MNELAP is requesting your laboratory update the fields of testing (FOTs) for the SM 92223 B methods you are currently accredited to SM 9223B (media type used in your laboratory)-2016 (23rd Ed).

MNELAP will accept past proficiency test (PT) studies as long as the accredited media type (e.g. Colilert, Colilert-18 or Colisure) was used in the study. Going forward, please ensure you reference the correct method and method code on your PT studies. Laboratories must perform a PT Study for each media for which they have accreditation.

MNELAP plans to post the application for third party environmental laboratory assessors at the beginning of 2021. In anticipation of applying, you may want to begin to gather the following documentation:

  • Proof of education;
  • Proof of Basic Assessor Training, and Refresher Assessor Training, if applicable;
  • Proof of EPA Certification Officer Training for each technical area requested on application;
  • Proof of technical and quality systems trainings; and
  • Assessment experience, including observed onsite assessments.

The NELAC Institute will provide a series of webinars in the Fall of 2020 to help laboratories and Accreditation Bodies on a variety of subjects. Details on the upcoming live training events can be found at the NELAC Institute: Educational Delivery System.

TNI is currently planning to convert the 2021 Forum on Environmental Accreditation, originally scheduled to be held in San Antonio, Texas from January 11-14, 2021, into a virtual meeting to be held the week of January 25, 2021. There is a request for speakers, if interested.

The AWWA 2020 Virtual Conference took place in September 2020. It was a virtual conference that allows professionals to connect, learn about new products, and learn more on relevant water sector topics.

Summer 2020

The TNI NELAP Accreditation Council set the formal adoption of the 2016 TNI Standard as January 31, 2020. As with previous TNI Standard revisions, the TNI Accreditation Bodies (ABs) are using a “rolling date implementation” to implement the revised standard.

On January 31, 2020, MNELAP began accepting the Proficiency Testing (PT) vendor scoring based on the requirements set forth in the 2016 TNI V1M1. Please see the guidance document, TNI V1M1 2016 Standard Update Guidance on Proficiency Testing Reporting Limit (PTRL)(PDF). MNELAP is in the process of updating procedures and the Environmental Laboratory Data Online (ELDO) system to comply with 2016 TNI Standard. MNELAP plans to implement the remaining modules in the 2016 TNI Standard on January 1, 2021.

MNELAP accredited laboratories must be compliant with the 2016 TNI Standard no later than January 1, 2021. Laboratories may choose to comply in full to the 2016 TNI Standard prior to this date. Please ensure that your laboratory informs your assessor prior to an assessment which NELAC/TNI Standard your laboratory maintains compliance. Assessments performed after January 1, 2021 will be based on compliance with the 2016 TNI Standards.

Laboratories may purchase the 2016 TNI Standard online. The 2016 TNI Standard, Volume 1: Management and Technical Requirements for Laboratories Performing Environmental Analysis (2016) pertain to laboratory accreditation. A quality systems checklist, based on the 2016 Standard, useful for establishing compliance with the Standard, is available at no cost if your laboratory can attest to ownership of the 2016 TNI Standard.

TNI also provides a series of training courses, Changes to the 2016 TNI Laboratory Accreditation Standard, on the different modules of the 2016 TNI Standard. They are available for purchase as a complete series or as individual modules via downloadable webcast(s).

Please see the list of documents that will help your laboratory comply with the 2016 TNI Standard:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has updated method guidance (PDF) and quality control (QC) acceptance criteria for PFAS analysis. These criteria should be considered as minimum standards (the laboratory may use stricter criteria) and should be met when analyzing and reporting sample results to the MPCA.

MNELAP is working on a corresponding PFAS checklist to comply with the new guidance. The checklist also will also include the EPA 537.1 requirements. MNELAP will post the checklist to our webpage when it becomes available.

The EPA Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water issued a document in June 2020 that outlines and clarifies the Code of Federal Regulations entries associated with monitoring for cyanide under the SDWA.

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final action regarding the regulation of perchlorate under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).The agency has determined that perchlorate does not meet the criteria for regulation as a drinking water contaminant under the SDWA.

The updated FoPT tables are now available for download in Excel and PDF format.

Summer 2019

As an accredited laboratory, you can help protect the health of Minnesota’s 1.2 million private well users’ by promoting regular private well testing. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) created a toolkit with 11 simple ways you can help protect the health of private well users; learn more at Accredited Laboratories as Well Partners.

Why should laboratories care about private well testing? A 2016 MDH survey found that less than 20 percent of private well users had tested their well water at the recommended frequency. In that survey, 43 percent of respondents said they look to their water testing laboratory for information to manage the safety and quality of their well water. By promoting private well testing in your community and among your customers, you can help protect the health of people who get their drinking water from a private well.

From 2016 MDH survey of 798 private well owner looked for information to help manage the safety and quality of thier well water from: 43 water testing laboratory, 39 general internet source, 32 local government website or office, and 31  well drilling company.

The MDH Well Management Section issued a memo, dated December 7, 2018, regarding the preservation and handling of water samples collected from new private potable water‐supply wells.  MDH Well Management began rejecting sample results that do not meet the preservation and handling requirements on July 1, 2019.  MNELAP laboratories will be assessed in accordance to the sample thermal and chemical preservation(s) in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: 40 CFR Part 141, Subpart C, or the method if more stringent, and the sample acceptance policy and handling requirements per the 2009 TNI Standard and the US EPA’s 5th Edition of the Drinking Water Manual. Accredited laboratories need to document on the chain-of-custody and water test report the temperature of the sample at the time of receipt and if the laboratory received the sample on ice or not received on ice. Without this qualification and information, the data user is not able to determine the validity of the sample results and make necessary compliance decisions.

EPA released Update VI to the SW-846 compendium of methods in three phases over the last year.   The methods (e.g. revised 8260D and 8270E) will be incorporated into the MNELAP Fields of Testing available for accreditation in October 2019.  To review the compendium updates and the streamlined method publication process please view the Hazardous Waste/SW-846 Announcement.

The Minnesota Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (MNELAP) has updated the Technical Director Form and the Environmental Laboratory Handbook. The revisions to these documents are to gain greater clarity and compliance to the 2009 TNI Standard and to ensure the documents are accessible and meet MDH branding requirements.

The annual environmental laboratory application period begins each year in October.  The laboratory information and applications are maintained and reviewed in the Environmental Laboratory Data Online (ELDO) system.  Please ensure the laboratory managers associated with your laboratory are up-to-date and accurate. Please navigate to the reports section and select lab manager users, review the list of names and notify MNELAP of any users that need to be deactivated.  Please verify the primary contact email address to ensure you receive automated messages regarding renewal.  Also, in early September please ensure your laboratory does not have a saved application in ELDO.  If your laboratory does have a saved application, please delete the application and instead request the changes on the on the renewal application.

For on demand ELDO training presentations visit the ELDO demonstration modules or review the ELDO user guide.  If you have other questions or concern with ELDO, please contact us directly with at 651-201-5324.

MNELAP will no longer return ELDO applications (initial, re-instatement, renewal, Add/Drop, change lab info) after the laboratory has officially submitted the application form for review.  This administrative change will assist with fee collection and limit exchanges. The application is non-returnable and non-refundable. Accreditation fees are set and collected per Minnesota Statute 144.98.

The TNI Accreditation Council officially adopted the TNI 2016 Standard with an implementation date of January 31, 2020.  MNELAP plans to move towards the implementation of the 2016 Standard into the accreditation procedures and processes by the end of 2020.  MNELAP encourages labs to purchase TNI Standards and begin moving towards implementation of the 2016 TNI Standards.

Summer 2018

The Minnesota Department of Health reviews the list of analytes available for accreditation and publishes revisions to the list. The department revises the list based on recommendations from state and federal agencies and accredited laboratories. The department reviewed the list of analytes and has added analytes not previous offered.

The list of Analytes available for accreditation by the department is available on the program website. Analytes are listed by date of publication.  New analytes will be listed with an official publication date of August 6, 2018 as provided by the Minnesota State Register, Aug 2018 (PDF). To submit comments on the list or request additional information, please contact the Minnesota Laboratory Accreditation Program, 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55155, phone 651-201-5324 or by email at health.mnelap@state.mn.us.

MNELAP has added a memorandum and checklist to help laboratories comply with the Method Detection Limit (MDL)– Revision 2. The Method Detection Limit document explains how MNELAP plans to assess clean water and drinking per the new MDL-Revision 2 requirements. The Method Detection Limit-Revision 2 Checklist will help laboratories ensure they do not miss any steps as they determine their updated MDLs per the revised 40 CFR Part 136.

Thank you to the labs who have been using electronic payments to submit and process online payments for accreditation fees.  MNELAP would like users of the systems to be aware of the two-step confirmation process used by the system.  Initially, there is a confirmation page from the USBank site, from which payers need to select the continue button and receive a MDH Confirmation screen inside the ELDO application in order to associate the payment and the invoice together. The payer needs to navigate and continue through the screens to a MDH Confirmation screen in order for the system to signify the application materials are ready for processing. Please see the final and needed confirmation screen below:

environmental laboratory data online

A 2016 Minnesota Department of Health survey found that 43 percent of people who get their drinking water from a private well look to water testing laboratories for information about how to manage well safety and water quality. The MDH Environmental Health Division has the following brochures that can help inform private well users how to manage their well and when and how to test their well water.

  • Well Water and Your Baby is a brand new brochure for households that get their drinking water from a private well and have or will have a baby in the home. It discusses the importance of well testing.
  • Owners Guide to Wells is a brochure for households that get their drinking water from a private well. It explains the well user’s responsibilities to regularly test their well water, inspect their well for damage, protect their well from damage, and seal unused wells.

Well Management hopes your laboratory will help share the brochures with customers who have private wells and that the brochures help answer some of the questions you receive from private well users.  Labs can order the brochures in bulk on the Well Management website (see Order Well Management Program Educational Materials.

test your well waterAbout 1.2 million people in Minnesota get their drinking water from a private well. Unlike people who get their drinking water from a public water system, private well users are responsible for making sure their water is safe for everyone in their household to drink. Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends all private well users in Minnesota test for coliform bacteria, nitrate, arsenic, and lead. Depending on who is drinking the water and where the well is, MDH may recommend additional water tests.

A survey MDH conducted in 2016 with nearly 800 households that get their drinking water from a private well found that less than 20 percent of the respondents had tested their well water for anything within the past two years. We look forward to partnering with you to increase the percentage of private well users regularly testing their well.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has revised and updated the Guidance for Perfluorochemicals Analysis (PDF) that includes method guidance and quality control acceptance criteria for Perfluorochemicals (PFC) analysis.  These standards are considered minimum analytical and reporting criteria and address initial and continuing calibration, method validation, method detection limits and reporting limits, and batch quality control.  The Minnesota Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (MNELAP) has updated the companion Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) Analytical Checklist to help laboratories and assessors when reviewing and meeting the Minnesota PFC analysis and reporting criteria.

Moving forward, MNELAP will not offer revised EPA 8260 or 8270 methods with the SIM designation on the available list of fields of testing, but will continue to offer the historic versions of the EPA 8270 SIM methods. The use of Selective Ion Monitoring (SIM) is an allowed enhancement in the EPA 8260 and EPA 8270 methods for achieving lower detection limits or reducing interferences, and does not require the lab to report results using EPA 8260 SIM or EPA 8270 SIM designations. Please ensure the lab reports the fields of testing for which your laboratory maintains on their current scope of accreditation (e.g. method code, method descriptions) and meets the needs of the client.

The MDH Well Management Section revised the handling of water samples, regarding the preservation and handling of water samples collected from new private potable water‐supply wells.  MNELAP laboratories will be assessed for water samples received from new wells in accordance to the revised memorandum dated July 3, 2018.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (40 CFR Part 141.852 (a) (1)) clearly states that the standard sample volume required for total coliform and E.coli analysis, regardless of analytical method used, is 100 ml. If the sample arrives with less than 100 mls the laboratory must reject the sample and contact the client.  If the sample arrives over the 100 ml volume mark the laboratory must inspect the sample and reject the sample, if there is not a one-inch headspace to ensure proper mixing and contact the client or ensure they maintain a compliant procedure for dealing with the excess sample volume.

The EPA’s Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water (5th edition, 2005) states that at least 100 mls of sample must be collected, allowing at least 1-inch air space to facilitating mixing the sample by shaking.  If the sample bottle is filled too full to allow for proper mixing, do no pour off and discard a portion of the sample. Rather, pour the entire sample into a larger sterile container, mix properly and proceed with the analysis.

The USEPA Region 5 recommends sample rejection for samples with excess sample volume, where possible, and if the sample is analyzed then the lab must ensure the sample is homogenized by shaking in a container with at least a 1-inch headspace.  The homogenized sample must be decanted into a larger sterile container and then poured back into the original container to the 100 ml volume line and the media added.  If there is excess volume, but the container (e.g. 150 ml sterile container) allows for 1-inch of sample mixing space, then the sample may be homogenized and drawn off with a sterile pipette using aseptic technique. However, the concern with pipetting is flocculated bacteria drawn off from the top of a non-homogenized sample, which could lead to false negative results, and to avoid this error ensure thorough mixing prior to pipetting. Document all client contact/decisions.

Recently, there have been some concerns with vendor supplied cadmium reduction columns (nitrate + nitrite) and pre-packaged and pre-prepared nutrient packets for biological oxygen demand (BOD) dilution water.   The 2009 TNI Standard require calibration and traceability to National standards for balances, weights, volumetric, and standard reference materials, but manufacturers do not necessarily need to meet the same requirements and may provide materials for use in an accredited lab that may not meet or always meet the requirements of the method/Standards.  Please continue to evaluate purchased supplies and services per the 2009 TNI Standard:

  • 4.6 Purchasing Services and Supplies (ISO/IEC 17025:2005(E), Clause 4.6)
    • 4.6.1 The laboratory shall have a policy and procedure(s) for the selection and purchasing of services and supplies it uses that affect the quality of the tests and/or calibrations. Procedures shall exist for the purchase, reception and storage of reagents and laboratory consumable materials relevant for the tests
      and calibrations.
    • 4.6.2 The laboratory shall ensure that purchased supplies and reagents and consumable materials that affect the quality of tests and/or calibrations are not used until they have been inspected or otherwise verified as complying with standard specifications or requirements defined in the methods for the tests
      and/or calibrations concerned. These services and supplies used shall comply with specified requirements. Records of actions taken to check compliance shall be maintained.

Spring 2018

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) developed a model plan for how schools should accurately and efficiently test for lead. The new state law requires school districts and charter schools, by July 1, 2018, to adopt the model plan or create a plan of their own that follows state and federal guidelines. The state’s model testing plan is also a manual to guide schools on actions they can take to prevent and reduce lead in school drinking water. The Reducing Lead in Drinking Water (PDF) manual contains health information, regulations, testing plans and hazard reduction options.

The NELAC Institute is offering a technical assessor training for the assessment process for asbestos testing laboratory technologies.  Asbestos is on the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation Contaminant List (PDF) and MNELAP offers accreditation for this field of testing. For those interested, please register directly with The NELAC Institute.

The MDH Well Management Section issued a memo, dated March 30, 2018, regarding the preservation and handling of water samples collected from new private potable water‐supply wells.  MNELAP laboratories will be assessed in accordance to the sample thermal and chemical preservation(s) in the 40 CFR Part 141, Subpart C, or the method if more stringent, and the sample acceptance policy and handling requirements per the 2009 TNI Standard and the US EPA’s 5th Edition of the Drinking Water Manual.

Winter 2018

If your laboratory currently maintains or wishes to seek secondary accreditation with New York or New Jersey, please take note that these accreditation bodies plan to implement the 2017 Clean Water Act MUR on April 1 and July 1, 2018.  The early implementation of the 2017 MUR methods may affect your laboratory, because the Minnesota Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (MNELAP) may not currently offer accreditation for an updated method required by the secondary Accreditation Body (AB).    

Minnesota labs, interested in secondary accreditation with New York and New Jersey, need to provide MNELAP with a list of fields of testing to evaluation for addition to the MNELAP available list prior to other states’ implementation timelines.  Please supply MNELAP with a list of the needed method reference, TNI LAMS method code, analyte name, TNI LAMs analyte code, program and matrix by March 1, 2018 to be considered for additions to our current list of fields of testing available for accreditation.  

Fall 2017

The ELDO application has been updated with over 200 fields-of-testing (FOT). The new FOTs include updated method codes to comply with TNI LAMs database, missed FOTs from past years, and updated method versions.

If your laboratory needs accreditation for a field-of-testing that does not appear on the current FOT list, please use the FOT Request Form to send your request directly to MNELAP for review and processing.

Please ensure you are using the approved version of the method that is required for your permit, program or rule. For example, laboratories that do compliance work for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency under the Resource and Conservation Act are required to use the SW-846 Update V versions. Please check the method you are seeking accreditation is the method listed in the Update V, as not all Update V methods are sequential (e.g. EPA 8260 C is not allowed, while EPA 8260 B is allowed). If in doubt, contact the client.
To apply for a newer method version laboratories must ensure the following:

  • The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is compliant with the method version requested;,
  • The actual laboratory practice must follow the requirements associated with the method version listed on the renewal application or current scope;
  • Proficiency Tests (PTs) from older method version are acceptable in 2017, but all future PTs must match the method on the laboratory’s scope;
  • For secondary laboratories, an older version of a method listed are accepted on the primary scope as long as the laboratory is in the process of updating to the newest version with their primary accreditation body.
  • Determine if you need to maintain the older version of the method. If not, please remove the older method version from your application prior to submittal.

The 2017 Method Update Rule (MUR) became effective September 27, 2017.  The MNELAP laboratories are required to begin following the new Method Detection Limit (MDL) Procedure in 2018 and have all MDLs completed by the updated procedure by 2019. An on demand training The New MDL Procedure is available for a fee. The webcast reviews the new procedure and provides examples of how to implement the procedure using real data.

The 2018 Forum on Environmental Accreditation will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque, NM, January 22-25, 2018. Some of the highlights for the week include:

  • Meetings of TNI Committees to further TNI efforts on environmental laboratory accreditation, proficiency testing, and accreditation of field sampling and measurement organizations;
  • An exhibit program showcasing the latest innovations in environmental monitoring;
  • Discussion of the new consensus standards in development for detection and quantitation, instrument calibration, proficiency testing and field activities;
  • An Assessment Forum;
  • A general session with updates about TNI programs;
  • An open meeting of US Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board; and
  • A training course on assessing radiochemistry laboratories.

MNELAP will be sending out a survey to all MNELAP accredited labs. The survey will ask questions on your laboratory’s history and work type performed, reasons for your accreditation, complexity of the accreditation process, and your experience with the assessment process.  Please take a few minutes to fill out the short survey. Your feedback helps MNELAP better serve your laboratory’s needs.  

Spring 2017

The Minnesota Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (MNELAP) is an Accreditation Body (AB) established in 1989 to accredit environmental laboratories. MNELAP has been a National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) Accreditation Body (AB) through the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Council (NELAC) since 2010. In early 2016, MNELAP participated in the triennial evaluation process and NELAC awarded MNELAP renewal recognition as a NELAP AB on April 5, 2017. The evaluation process consists of a thorough record and document review, onsite evaluation of MNELAP, and an observation of a MNELAP assessor performing a laboratory assessment. The NELAP evaluation team assessed the MNELAP’s compliance to the 2009 TNI Standard Volume 2 General Requirements for Accreditation Bodies Accrediting Environmental Laboratories.

The purpose of laboratory accreditation is to instill public and regulatory confidence in the laboratory data produced and reported to various state and federal environmental programs; and to assist in ensuring laboratories generate quality, legally defensible data, consistent with other accredited environmental laboratories throughout the country and the world. Laboratory accreditation requires that laboratories’ quality systems, staff, facilities, equipment, test methods, records and reports meet objective and measurable criteria adopted by the NELAP of The NELAC Institute (TNI).

In order to meet the needs of laboratories and data users, MNELAP added several new analytes to the list of available analytes for accreditation.  The department reviewed the list of  requested analytes and added Anthanthrene (CAS # 191-26-4), Available Cyanide, Benzo[c]fluorine (CAS# 205-12-9), Cyclopenta[c,d]pyrene (CAS# 27208-37-3), Dibenzo[a,l] pyrene (CAS# 191-30-0), 5-Methylchrysene (3697-24-3), 6-Nitrochrysene (CAS# 7496-02-8) and Residual Range Organics to the list previously published.

Requests to add fields of testing for new analytes in response to this notice of availability, do not require payment if the laboratory holds valid accreditation for the changed test category and applies for additional analytes within the same test category, and the lab applies no later than 180 days after the notice of availability is posted. Please see the official notice in the Minnesota State Register, April 2017 (PDF) for additional information and details.

The Environmental Laboratory Data Online (ELDO) system now accepts online electronic payments for laboratory accreditation fees. Electronic checks and savings account payment transfers do not incur a transaction fee.  Paying by electronic transfer is easy and convenient.  Please see the example below:

epayment

USBank does not charge convenience fees for checking or savings account transfers using this method of payment, but a convenience fee will be charged for debit/credit card payments. Convenience fees, if applicable to your payment type, will be clearly displayed on the screen for review and confirmation prior to submission of payment.

TNI has posted two documents to help labs calculate Relative Standard Error as required by the Chemical Testing Standard of the 2009 TNI Laboratory Accreditation Standard (V1M4, Section 1.7.1.1).  A document outlines the procedure and links to a companion Excel spreadsheet to simplify the calculation process.  TNI made this tool available to assist laboratories with meeting the requirements in this area of the TNI standard, use of this tool is not a TNI Standard requirement.

Winter 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing changes through the Method Update Rule (MUR). The 2016 MUR includes updates to methods approved for testing under the Clean Water Act (i.e. NPDES permits) and to the procedure for determining the Method Detection Limit (MDL).  The EPA is in the final stages of preparing and promulgating these changes to the regulations; however, the federal regulatory freeze has put the MUR on hold for now.

The MUR and all methods within are not effective until published in the Federal Register. The final rule becomes effective 30 days after publication.  After the MUR becomes effective, MNELAP will work with our state program partners to determine implementation dates for laboratories to gain accreditation for the newer versions of the methods, and to implement the revised MDL procedures.   In the meantime, please continue to follow the current promulgated Clean Water Program (40 CFR Part 136) Laws and Rules and seek out any needed information or training opportunities your laboratory may be interesting in obtaining about the MUR and its implementation in your laboratory.  The EPA maintains a webpage dedicated to the Method Update Rule-2017 and The NELAC Institute (TNI)  offers training materials on the proposed rule changes, approved methods and updated versions of methodology.

Currently, the 2016 TNI Standard is available for sale on The NELAC Institute (TNI) website. The 2016 Standard is approved as an ANSI standard; however, the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) States has NOT approved the 2016 TNI Standard for use. The 2016 TNI Standard, specifically the Chemistry Testing module (Volume 1 Module 4), is undergoing revision in order to meet the requirements of the NELAP States.  Once the NELAP States approve the revisions, the NELAP States will adopt 2017 TNI Standard.  Your laboratory can start preparing for any required changes found throughout the other module revisions, but MNELAP requires your laboratory to continue to follow the 2009 TNI Standards until officially announcing the 2017 TNI implementation dates and timelines.

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Updated Tuesday, 12-Oct-2021 10:31:22 CDT