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 and quality-control data were stored in the laboratory's LabMaster 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 1999 through June 2001.
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 or low-concentration samples but were within control limits; these procedures were: acid-neutralizing capacity, total monomeric aluminum, total aluminum, calcium, chloride and nitrate (ion chromatography and colormetric method) and sulfate. The total aluminum and dissolved organic carbon procedures were biased throughout the analysis period for the high-concentration sample, but were within control limits. The calcium and specific conductance procedures were biased throughout the analysis period for the low-concentration sample, but were within control limits. The magnesium procedure was biased for the high-concentration and low concentration samples, but was within control limits.
Results from the filter-blank and analytical-blank analyses indicate that the procedures for 14 of 15 analytes were within control limits, although the concentrations for blanks were occasionally outside the control limits. The data-quality objective was not met for dissolved organic carbon.
Sampling and analysis precision are evaluated herein in terms of the coefficient of variation obtained for triplicate samples in the procedures for 17 of the 18 analytes. At least 90 percent of the samples met data-quality objectives for all analytes except ammonium (81 percent of samples met objectives), chloride (75 percent of samples met objectives), and sodium (86 percent of samples met objectives).
Results of the USGS interlaboratory Standard Reference Sample (SRS) Project indicated good data quality over the time period, with most ratings for each sample in the good to excellent range. The P-sample (low-ionic-strength constituents) analysis had one satisfactory rating for the specific conductance procedure in one study. The T-sample (trace constituents) analysis had one satisfactory rating for the aluminum procedure in one study and one unsatisfactory rating for the sodium procedure in another. The remainder of the samples had good or excellent ratings for each study.
Results of Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute (NWRI) program indicated that at least 89 percent of the samples met data-quality objectives for 10 of the 14 analytes; the exceptions were ammonium, total aluminum, dissolved organic carbon, and sodium. Results indicate a positive bias for the ammonium procedure in all studies. Data-quality objectives were not met in 50 percent of samples analyzed for total aluminum, 38 percent of samples analyzed for dissolved organic carbon, and 27 percent of samples analyzed for sodium.
Results from blind reference-sample analyses indicated that data-quality objectives were met by at least 91 percent of the samples analyzed for calcium, chloride, fluoride, magnesium, pH, potassium, and sulfate. Data-quality objectives were met by 75 percent of the samples analyzed for sodium and 58 percent of the samples analyzed for specific conductance.