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 Lab Master 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 2005 through June 2007.
Results for the quality-control samples for 19 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: total aluminum, calcium, magnesium, nitrate (colorimetric method), potassium, silicon, sodium, and sulfate. Eight of the analytical procedures were biased throughout the analysis period for the high-concentration sample, but were within control limits; these procedures were: total aluminum, calcium, dissolved organic carbon, chloride, nitrate (ion chromatograph), potassium, silicon, and sulfate. The magnesium and pH procedures were biased throughout the analysis period for the low-concentration sample, but were within control limits. The acid-neutralizing capacity, total monomeric aluminum, nitrite, and specific conductance procedures were biased for the high-concentration and low-concentration samples, but were within control limits.
Results from the filter-blank and analytical-blank analyses indicated that the procedures for 16 of 17 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 18 of the 21 analytes. At least 93 percent of the samples met data-quality objectives for all analytes except acid-neutralizing capacity (85 percent of samples met objectives), total monomeric aluminum (83 percent of samples met objectives), total aluminum (85 percent of samples met objectives), and chloride (85 percent of samples met objectives). The ammonium and total dissolved nitrogen did not meet the data-quality objectives.
Results of the USGS interlaboratory Standard Reference Sample (SRS) Project met the Troy Laboratory data-quality objectives for 87 percent of the samples analyzed. The P-sample (low-ionic-strength constituents) analysis had two outliers each in two studies. The T-sample (trace constituents) analysis and the N-sample (nutrient constituents) analysis had one outlier each in two studies.
Results of Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute (NWRI) program indicated that at least 85 percent of the samples met data-quality objectives for 11 of the 14 analytes; the exceptions were acid-neutralizing capacity, total aluminum and ammonium. Data-quality objectives were not met in 41 percent of samples analyzed for acid-neutralizing capacity, 50 percent of samples analyzed for total aluminum, and 44 percent of samples analyzed for ammonium.
Results from blind reference-sample analyses indicated that data-quality objectives were met by at least 86 percent of the samples analyzed for calcium, magnesium, pH, potassium, and sodium. Data-quality objectives were met by 76 percent of the samples analyzed for chloride, 80 percent of the samples analyzed for specific conductance, and 77 percent of the samples analyzed for sulfate.