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TestAmerica Dissects the Frequency of Detections on Method Blank Analysis


Dr. Charlie Carter, TestAmerica’s VP of Quality and Technical Services, will demonstrate the detection frequencies in method blanks, and the risk of false positives in environmental measurements, in his upcoming public address at the 71st Annual American Council of Independent Laboratories (ACIL) Conference. He will highlight which contaminants of concern are most likely to be mistakenly reported as present below the reporting limit at the ACIL Technical Session on October 12, 2008 in Albuquerque, NM.

Environmental measurements have become increasingly sensitive and, as a result, analytes are being detected at much lower concentrations. In many situations, laboratories are asked to report results below their routine reporting limits all the way to the MDL. It is widely accepted that the results reported below the reporting limit are less reliable than those above the reporting limit, but there have been few studies that would quantify the extent of the decreased reliability.

This presentation will summarize thousands of method blank results, evaluating biases inherent to the measurement process, over a large population of laboratories. This will include the frequency of detections, the average concentrations detected, analysis of the reasons for the positive results, and differences between labs. Knowing which analytes are most prone to method blank detections will help environmental decision makers appropriately interpret the monitoring results.

Dr. Charlie Carter has over 25 years of experience in the environmental laboratory business. He provides technical guidance to both TestAmerica laboratories and its clients in a wide variety of areas, including environmental chemistry, sample preparation techniques, analytical methods, quality assurance, and data handling. Dr. Carter has been involved with private sector analyses and is a corporate representative for regulatory agencies. To submit an inquiry to Dr. Carter, please go to TestAmerica’s Ask the Expert webpage.

About TestAmerica

TestAmerica is the leading environmental testing firm in the United States, including 39 laboratories and 27 service centers. TestAmerica provides innovative technical expertise and comprehensive analytical testing services. Specialty analyses include source and ambient air, aquatic toxicity, explosives, specialty organics, dioxins, drinking water, sediments and tissues, emerging contaminants, radiochemistry and mixed waste testing.

TestAmerica affiliate companies include EMLab P&K, the leader in analytical microscopy and indoor air quality; QED Environmental Systems, Inc., the leading supplier of groundwater sampling equipment and remediation pumping systems; TestAmerica Drilling Corp., provider of innovative environmental and geotechnical drilling, and TestAmerica Air Emissions Corp. (METCO Environmental), specializing in air emissions testing. TestAmerica currently employs over 3,200 professionals dedicated to exceptional service and solutions for our clients’ environmental testing needs.


 method blank analysis
 false positives
 environmental testing

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