The duties of the Laboratory Certification office can be divided into three major areas of responsibility. First is the evaluation of laboratories that analyze water subject to the regulations under the North Carolina Drinking Water Act. Second is the evaluation of laboratories and analysts that test milk under the Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Third, Laboratory Certification provides consultation and guidance to laboratories analyzing milk or water, and provides training through seminars and workshops.
Public water systems serving at least 25 persons or having 15 service connections must comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the requirements of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. These regulations include "criteria and procedures ... [for] quality control and testing procedures to insure compliance...". In addition, the regulations governing certification (40CFR 141.28) require that testing of compliance samples be performed by laboratories certified by the State or EPA. It is the responsibility of the Certification staff to access a laboratory for compliance with these regulations and determine its certification status. See information on becoming certified or a list of certified laboratories.
The U.S. Public Health Services (PHS) recognized at the turn of the century the importance of milk in the diet of persons of all ages, as well as milk’s potential to be a carrier of disease. In 1924, the PHS developed a model regulation incorporating sanitation control measures for handling, pasteurization, and distribution of milk and milk products. Since its original publication this code, now titled the Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), has been revised numerous times to incorporate new knowledge of public health practices. Dairy plants and analysts involved in microbiological and drug screening of milk are evaluated by the Laboratory Evaluation Officer for compliance with the PMO. See information on the Milk Program.
Natural and manmade radiation levels in air, water, milk, food and other substances are currently monitored in this area. Samples must be submitted through a local health department, a public water system, the Divisions of Environmental Health, Solid Waste Management or Radiation Protection. Screening tests include Gross alpha and Gross beta activities. Additionally, more specific tests may be required depending on the results of the screen. More than 50 gamma emitters can be analyzed by this laboratory.
As officials continue to learn more about the health effects of contaminants, the nation’s environmental programs continue to evolve. Testing requirements change as new compounds are regulated. Advances in technology have provided more sophisticated and sensitive equipment, and allowed for new testing methods. As the programs develop, the Laboratory Certification staff is called on for advice and guidance. With its close working relationship with both FDA and EPA, the Certification office has access to a variety of technical resources. Additionally, as a part of the Environmental Sciences Unit of the State Laboratory of Public Health, a number of in-house professionals are readily available for assistance. The Laboratory Certification office also provides workshops and seminars to further assist the laboratory community. See information on workshops or certification publications.