The laboratory for analysis of low-ionic-strength water at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Science Center in Troy, N.Y., analyzes samples collected by USGS projects throughout the Northeast. The laboratory's quality-assurance program is based on internal and interlaboratory quality-assurance samples and quality-control procedures that were developed to ensure proper sample collection, processing, and analysis. The quality-assurance/quality-control data for the time period addressed in this report were stored in the laboratory's SAS data-management system, which provides efficient review, compilation, and plotting of data. This report presents and discusses results of quality-assurance and quality- control samples analyzed from July 1997 through June 1999.
Results for the quality-control samples for 18 analytical procedures were evaluated for bias and precision. Control charts indicate that data for eight of the analytical procedures were occasionally biased for either high-concentration and (or) low-concentration samples but were within control limits; these procedures were: acid-neutralizing capacity, total monomeric aluminum, total aluminum, ammonium, calcium, chloride, specific conductance, and sulfate. The data from the potassium and sodium analytical procedures are insufficient for evaluation. Results from the filter-blank and analytical-blank analyses indicate that the procedures for 11 of 13 analytes were within control limits, although the concentrations for blanks were occasionally outside the control limits. Blank analysis results for chloride showed that 22 percent of blanks did not meet data-quality objectives and results for dissolved organic carbon showed that 31 percent of the blanks did not meet data-quality objectives.
Sampling and analysis precision are evaluated herein in terms of the coefficient of variation obtained for triplicate samples in the procedures for 14 of the 18 analytes. At least 90 percent of the samples met data-quality objectives for all analytes except total aluminum (70 percent of samples met objectives) and potassium (83 percent of samples met objectives).
Results of the USGS interlaboratory Standard Reference Sample (SRS) Project indicated good data quality for most constituents over the time period. The P-sample (low-ionic-strength constituents) analysis had good ratings in two of these studies and a satisfactory rating in the third. The results of the T-sample (trace constituents) analysis indicated high data quality with good ratings in all three studies. The N-sample (nutrient constituents) studies had one each of excellent, good, and satisfactory ratings.
Results of Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute (NWRI) program indicated that at least 80 percent of the samples met data-quality objectives for 9 of the 13 analytes; the exceptions were dissolved organic carbon, ammonium, chloride, and specific conductance. Data-quality objectives were not met for dissolved organic carbon in two NWRI studies, but all of the samples were within control limits for the last study. Data-quality objectives were not met in 41 percent of samples analyzed for ammonium, 25 percent of samples analyzed for chloride, and 30 percent of samples analyzed for specific conductance.
Results from blind reference-sample analyses indicated that data-quality objectives were met by at least 84 percent of the samples analyzed for calcium, chloride, magnesium, pH, and potassium. Data-quality objectives were met by 73 percent of those analyzed for sulfate. The data-quality objective was not met for sodium. The data are insufficient for evaluation of the specific conductance results.