The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) used five programs to provide external quality-assurance monitoring for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network (NADP/NTN) and two programs to provide external quality-assurance monitoring for the NADP/Mercury Deposition Network (NADP/MDN) during 2004. An intersite-comparison program was used to estimate accuracy and precision of field-measured pH and specific-conductance. The variability and bias of NADP/NTN data attributed to field exposure, sample handling and shipping, and laboratory chemical analysis were estimated using the sample-handling evaluation (SHE), field-audit, and interlaboratory-comparison programs. Overall variability of NADP/NTN data was estimated using a collocated-sampler program. Variability and bias of NADP/MDN data attributed to field exposure, sample handling and shipping, and laboratory chemical analysis were estimated using a system-blank program and an interlaboratory-comparison program.
In two intersite-comparison studies, approximately 89 percent of NADP/NTN site operators met the pH measurement accuracy goals, and 94.7 to 97.1 percent of NADP/NTN site operators met the accuracy goals for specific conductance. Field chemistry measurements were discontinued by NADP at the end of 2004. As a result, the USGS intersite-comparison program also was discontinued at the end of 2004.
Variability and bias in NADP/NTN data due to sample handling and shipping were estimated from paired-sample concentration differences and specific conductance differences obtained for the SHE program. Median absolute errors (MAEs) equal to less than 3 percent were indicated for all measured analytes except potassium and hydrogen ion. Positive bias was indicated for most of the measured analytes except for calcium, hydrogen ion and specific conductance. Negative bias for hydrogen ion and specific conductance indicated loss of hydrogen ion and decreased specific conductance from contact of the sample with the collector bucket.
Field-audit results for 2004 indicate dissolved analyte loss in more than one-half of NADP/NTN wet-deposition samples for all analytes except chloride. Concentrations of contaminants also were estimated from field-audit data. On the basis of 2004 field-audit results, at least 25 percent of the 2004 NADP/NTN concentrations for sodium, potassium, and chloride were lower than the maximum sodium, potassium, and chloride contamination likely to be found in 90 percent of the samples with 90-percent confidence.
Variability and bias in NADP/NTN data attributed to chemical analysis by the NADP Central Analytical Laboratory (CAL) were comparable to the variability and bias estimated for other laboratories participating in the interlaboratory-comparison program for all analytes. Variability in NADP/NTN ammonium data evident in 2002-03 was reduced substantially during 2004. Sulfate, hydrogen-ion, and specific conductance data reported by CAL during 2004 were positively biased. A significant (a = 0.05) bias was identified for CAL sodium, potassium, ammonium, and nitrate data, but the absolute values of the median differences for these analytes were less than the method detection limits. No detections were reported for CAL analyses of deionized-water samples, indicating that contamination was not a problem for CAL.
Control charts show that CAL data were within statistical control during at least 90 percent of 2004. Most 2004 CAL interlaboratory-comparison results for synthetic wet-deposition solutions were within ?10 percent of the most probable values (MPVs) for solution concentrations except for chloride, nitrate, sulfate, and specific conductance results from one sample in November and one specific conductance result in December.
Overall variability of NADP/NTN wet-deposition measurements was estimated during water year 2004 by the median absolute errors for weekly wet-deposition sample concentrations and precipitation measurements for tw
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USGS Numbered Series
External quality-assurance results for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program / National Trends Network and Mercury Deposition Network, 2004