New isotope laboratories can achieve the goal of reporting the same isotopic composition within analytical uncertainty for the same material analysed decades apart by (1) writing their own acceptance testing procedures and putting them into their mass spectrometric or laser-based isotope-ratio equipment procurement contract, (2) requiring a manufacturer to demonstrate acceptable performance using all sample ports provided with the instrumentation, (3) for each medium to be analysed, prepare two local reference materials substantially different in isotopic composition to encompass the range in isotopic composition expected in the laboratory and calibrated them with isotopic reference materials available from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), (4) using the optimum storage containers (for water samples, sealing in glass ampoules that are sterilised after sealing is satisfactory), (5) interspersing among sample unknowns local laboratory isotopic reference materials daily (internationally distributed isotopic reference materials can be ordered at three-year intervals, and can be used for elemental analyser analyses and other analyses that consume less than 1 mg of material) - this process applies to H, C, N, O, and S isotope ratios, (6) calculating isotopic compositions of unknowns by normalising isotopic data to that of local reference materials, which have been calibrated to internationally distributed isotopic reference materials, (7) reporting results on scales normalised to internationally distributed isotopic reference materials (where they are available) and providing to sample submitters the isotopic compositions of internationally distributed isotopic reference materials of the same substance had they been analysed with unknowns, (8) providing an audit trail in the laboratory for analytical results - this trail commonly will be in electronic format and might include a laboratory information management system, (9) making at regular intervals a complete backup of laboratory analytical data (both of samples logged into the laboratory and of mass spectrometric analyses), being sure to store one copy of this backup offsite, and (10) participating in interlaboratory comparison exercises sponsored by the IAEA and other agencies at regular intervals. ?? Taylor & Francis.
Additional publication details
Quality assurance and quality control in light stable isotope laboratories: A case study of Rio Grande, Texas, water samples