Water: Laboratory Certification
Laboratory Certification Program
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EPA’s Office of Water implements the Drinking Water Laboratory Certification Program in partnership with EPA Regions and States. Laboratories must be certified by EPA or the State to analyze drinking water samples for compliance monitoring. Certified laboratories must successfully analyze proficiency testing samples annually, use approved methods, and successfully pass periodic on-site audits. EPA recommends that consumers use State certified laboratories for water testing.
- On this page
State Certification Programs
Contact your State Certification Program for a list of certified laboratories and to answer technical questions. Questions may also be directed to the Safe Drinking Water Hotline.
Laboratory Certification Manual
The Manual describes the Drinking Water Laboratory Certification Program implementation procedures, laboratory procedures, and technical criteria laboratories must meet to analyze drinking water compliance samples.
- Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water, Fifth Edition (PDF) (209 pp, 4MB)
EPA 815-R-05-004, January 2005
- Order a hardcopy of the manual through EPA’s National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP).
- Supplement 1 to the Fifth Edition of the Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water (PDF) (9 pp, 59K)
EPA 815-F-08-006, June 2008
- Supplement 2 to the Fifth Edition of the Manual for the Certification of Laboratories Analyzing Drinking Water (PDF) (82 pp, 2.5MB)
EPA 815-F-12-006, November 2012
Certification Officer Training
EPA conducts chemistry and microbiology Certification Officer Training courses.
- Must be nominated by their Regional Certification Officer to attend the training.
- Should be experienced professionals.
- Should have at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent education/experience in the discipline they will certify.
- Should have recent laboratory experience in the discipline they will audit.
Proficiency Testing Studies
Certified laboratories must successfully analyze proficiency testing (PT) samples annually for each method that they desire certification.
State Certification Programs may:
- Require laboratories to participate in a specific private sector PT program and have the results sent to the State by the PT study provider.
- Elect to serve as PT study providers themselves.
- Permit a laboratory to participate in any accredited PT study and have the results sent to the State.
Many States use PT providers accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-American Society for Quality (ASQ) National Accreditation Board/ACLASS. The NELAC Institute (TNI) selected A2LA and ACLASS as PT Provider Accreditors.
Other EPA Laboratory Approval
EPA implements laboratory approval programs for contaminants not covered under State certification programs. This includes the program for Cryptosporidium monitoring under the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule and the program for analyses under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.
Laboratories that analyze source water samples for Cryptosporidium under the Safe Drinking Water Act must be approved by EPA.
Laboratories that analyze samples for the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3) must be approved by EPA.
Laboratory Certification Bulletins
EPA publishes Laboratory Certification (LabCert) Bulletins periodically. The bulletins contain information of interest to drinking water laboratories and drinking water laboratory certification officers.
EPA recommends that state laboratory certification programs and certified labs develop fraud detection programs to ensure that the public can have confidence in drinking water analytical results.
If you suspect fraudulent activity related to drinking water analysis, notify:
If the suspected fraud involves EPA staff, programs or contracts, contact EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).