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U.S. EPA program certifies six Pacific Island water quality labs U.S. Freely associated States’ labs certified

Release Date: 09/08/2008
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711,

(09/08/08) HONOLULU – The U.S. Freely Associated States Water Quality Laboratory Certification Program recently completed a very successful first year with certification granted to six of its laboratories.

The certification program operates under the auspices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Samoa EPA, CNMI Division of Environmental Quality, and Guam EPA.

Certification was granted to laboratories of the Palau Environmental Quality Protection Board, the Republic of the Marshall Islands EPA, and the Federated States of Micronesia, which includes Yap State EPA, Chuuk State EPA, Pohnpei State EPA and Kosrae Department of Health Services. All labs were certified to analyze drinking water for bacterial contamination, and the Palau and RMI labs were also certified to analyze bacteria in marine water.

“This successful program is an excellent example of partnership and of leveraging technical expertise to get these critical drinking water labs certified,” said John McCarroll, manager of the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Pacific Islands office. “This program is really important for these islands because without a good water quality laboratory you cannot be sure whether water is safe for drinking or nearshore water is safe for swimming or fishing. The amazing thing about this program is that we tapped the expertise not just of U.S. EPA, but also the territorial EPA’s.”

The certification program is led by ASEPA Water Program Manager Lt. Elena Vaouli with the U.S. Public Health Service. One of the key accomplishments this year is the certification for the RMI Lab enabling it to better analyze drinking water and marine water for bacterial contamination. Also, the Chuuk State Lab with its certification has become the FSM’s newest, largest, and best supplied lab, with the highest number of certified staff analysts, enabling it to better analyze drinking water.

Certification audits for analysis of bacteria in marine water for the Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae labs are planned for 2009 to verify their ability to monitor the ocean water quality and ensure the safety of those using the ocean resources.

Certification of laboratory facilities and personnel ensures that a laboratory produces scientifically valid and legally defensible data. To maintain certification, lab facilities must pass an on-site evaluation at least every two years, and must have at least one certified analyst on staff. To receive certification, analysts must successfully pass a written exam as well as a hands-on practical application of methods and procedures.

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