Standard Article

Quality Assurance in Environmental Analysis

Environment: Water and Waste

  1. Malcolm J.R. Clark

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a0858

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Clark, M. J. 2006. Quality Assurance in Environmental Analysis. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Victoria, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


Vigorous and thorough programs of quality assurance (QA) are vital to ensure that environmental analysis studies yield results which are trustworthy, scientifically credible, and of known quality commensurate with their intended use. Mistakes in any step of the environmental analysis process can result in a substantial increase in random and nonrandom errors. Poor design of an environmental analysis program or failure to adhere to good scientific practices (GSP) for every step of the environmental analysis process can result in compromised or even meaningless results. Therefore, a holistic approach must be taken to ensure adequate QA is implemented for each and every step of the environmental analysis process, from initial study design through final information reporting. However, there is a substantial economic cost toincorporate QA on such a thorough and comprehensive basis. Therefore, QA efforts are unlikely to succeed unless management is committed to the value of these efforts. Increased recognition of the importance of QA, plus broadened international adoption of harmonized standard QA methodologies, has substantially improved the reliability of environmental analyses. QA ensures that environmental monitoring results are compatible with project goals, are comparable between different agencies, and maintain a high degree of scientific credibility. The key elements of QA programs include comprehensive planning, defined data quality objectives (DQOs), thorough training of personnel, standard operating procedures, detailed documentation, timely resolution of problems, regular reporting, routine independent audits plus regular challenges of study elements.