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Dec2022 – Worldwide Watchdog

Woof! “Worldwide Watchdog” Goes to Brazil

With our extensive experience performing audits all over the globe, some think of Environmental Standards as a “Worldwide Watchdog.” I recently travelled to Brazil to audit two laboratories for a client with global operations. Brazil, like the United States, was in the middle of its election cycle – in this case the citizens were voting for the country’s president. Despite the tension over their election, everyone I encountered, laboratory staff included, was very cooperative. Environmental testing laboratories in Brazil are accredited under the National Institute of Metrology, Standardization, and Industrial Quality (INMETRO). INMETRO is akin to The NELAC Institute (TNI) in the U.S., yet is a national requirement with wider scope. INMETRO is responsible for certification of test laboratories as well as products, services, and licensing established by the council CONMETRO. ISO 17025 is a primary component of the accreditation requirements with specific INMETRO specifications such as frequency of calibration, level of adherence to published methods (e.g., US EPA SW-846 methods), and other technical aspects of laboratory procedures.

In Brazil, Environmental Standards’ auditing is based upon the INMETRO, ISO 17025, published methods and laboratory-specified quality requirements. Hence, where INMETRO differs from TNI, the Auditor objectively interprets the effect that would have on the quality of the client’s data. Environmental Standards Auditors apply a similar breadth of knowledge when we assess U.S. laboratories without strict TNI or ISO requirements. For example, we routinely provide gap assessments, and third-party reviews of internal laboratories whose focus is on product quality assurance, or operational optimization. Understanding the impact of how laboratories interpret the gray areas within laboratory methods and normative references is critical to objective auditing.

My auditing in Brazil this fall was only two of the circa 100 laboratory audits that the Environmental Standards Team provides each year. Our Team is in the process of outlining our 2023 laboratory audits to support cost-sharing across clients. Let us know if we can support your program in 2023 via internal or external laboratory auditing in the United States, or other parts of the globe.

David Gratson, CEAC

Associate Chemist