Laboratory Accreditation Section Identifier

Laboratory Accreditation

Methods Update Rule Changes

Clean Water Act methods updated

On August 28, 2017, EPA published the Methods Update Rule-2017.

The changes include:

  1. New and Revised EPA methods (including new and/or revised methods published by voluntary consensus standard bodies (VCSB), such as ASTM International and the Standard Methods Committee).
  2. Updated versions of currently approved methods
  3. Methods reviewed under the alternative test procedure (ATP) program
  4. Clarifications to ATP approval procedures
  5. Revised Method Detection Limit (MDL) procedure

The new regulation is effective September 27, 2017.

We will begin accrediting labs for the latest approved methods immediately after the rule has taken effect. We require that accredited laboratories begin using the new MDL procedure for their next regular annual MDL studies.

Laboratories will have a year to update their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to conform to the newer versions of the methods. When we process accreditation renewals, we will update Scopes of Accreditation to the new approved methods. Laboratories do not need to send us revised SOPs, but have them ready and available for our review at the next routine on-site audit. Any requested scope revisions for non-potable water matrix, processed on or following September 27, 2017 will be for the new methods.

Laboratories conducting EPA 600 series methods will have a year to comply with the new method versions, due to substantial changes.

Solid and Chemical Materials methods updated

Changes were enacted in Solid and Chemical Materials methods (SW-846 Update V):

  • Organics (Method 8000D)
  • Metals (Methods 6010D and 6020B)

In addition to method updates, Chapters One through Five of SW-846 are also updated. Chapter One replaces MDL with “Lower Limit of Quantitation LLOQ.” Learn more details below.

We want labs to use the latest version of these methods, so we will accredit for the new and revised methods. Starting January 1, 2017 and throughout 2017, when we process accreditation renewals we will update Scopes of Accreditation to the Update V methods. You do not need to send us your revised SOPs, but have them ready and available for our review at the next routine on-site audit. If you want us to update your Scope (to show the new method versions) earlier than your renewal date in 2017, you may send a copy of your SOP to your lead auditor and request to have your Scope updated.

  • SW-846 Update V (This applies to labs accredited for parameters in the Solid and Chemical Materials matrix.) EPA promulgated Update V to the methods compendium SW-846 in the Federal Register on August 13, 2015.
  • SW-846 Online has been updated to include new methods and newer versions of several existing methods, including Methods 6010D and 6020B.

Organics methods updated

Important note for organics (8000 series methods): we expect labs accredited for 8000 series methods to use and comply with the requirements in Method 8000D (even for older methods that reference 8000C).

Other revisions for chapters one through five

In addition to method updates, Update V also includes revisions to Chapters One through Five of SW-846. Chapter One replaces MDL with “Lower Limit of Quantitation (LLOQ),” defined as the lowest point of quantitation which, in most cases, is the lowest concentration in the calibration curve. The LLOQ is verified periodically with Blank Spikes, also known as Laboratory Control Samples (LCSs) using lab-specific statistically based recovery limits, or project limits. For more detailed requirements for the LLOQ, please see section 9.8 of 6010D or 6020B or 9.7 of 8000D . For questions on LLOQ requirements, please contact Rebecca Wood at rebecca.wood@ecy.wa.gov (306-871-8811) for metals or Kamilee Ginder at kamilee.ginder@ecy.wa.gov (360-871-8841) for organics.

Note that Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) requirements supersede method requirements for a given project; e.g. if a QAPP specifies MDL (not LLOQ) requirements, then those are the requirements that must be met for that project. If a QAPP specifies SW-846 methods, but does not specify MDL or LLOQ, then the current LLOQ requirements will be the default. The Laboratory Accreditation Unit does not specify the requirements in QAPPs.