JEFF WASSON: jeffrey-wasson@uiowa.edu

After more than 30 years, the Laboratory Certification program has grown to 186 laboratories that it certifies to test wastewater, drinking water, solid waste and samples that may threaten the environment.

Public water providers in the United States are required to monitor their drinking water to determine if consumers are adequately protected from microbiological, chemical and radiochemical contaminants. Similarly, wastewater treatment facilities perform analyses to assure that the wastewater is properly treated to protect the environment from bacteria, pathogens and other pollutants.

The Hygienic Laboratory provides laboratory certification assessments and management for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. These were developed over the past 30 years to provide a comprehensive list of testing parameters and fields of testing for laboratory certification.

A laboratory is certified to perform a specific method for a specific analyte or analyte group. The program also provides the opportunity for a testing laboratory to become certified for a specific analyte group across multiple environmental programs. For example, a lab may acquire certification for inorganic chemicals (IOCs) within the wastewater, drinking water and contaminated sites programs.

There are 186 laboratories certified in 2016. These include municipal and regional water plants, water treatment facilities and commercial laboratories. Approximately 150 laboratories perform only wastewater testing. The remainder test for drinking water, or a combination of drinking water and wastewater. Commercial laboratories include those that are located both in and outside of the state that perform work in Iowa.

Certification in Iowa is on a two-year cycle with most laboratories receiving an onsite inspection once during that two-year period. Some laboratories, especially out-of-state laboratories that are certified in their home state, can be certified for Iowa based on reciprocity with their state’s certification or accreditation in the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program. Through reciprocity, a laboratory may not require an onsite inspection.

Other Units in Environmental Health

The Office of the Director consists of 10 key functional units that enable the State Hygienic Laboratory to achieve its statutory charge set forth in the Iowa Administrative Code.

The primary mission of the Disease Control Division is to test human specimens, food and water for diseases of public health significance to protect the citizens of Iowa.

The Environmental Health Division monitors drinking water, wastewater, air, soil and food for contaminants of potential environmental and public health concern.

The Division of Administration and Finance is responsible for the management of the business practices, all Hygienic Laboratory facilities, and pre/post testing support.