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general lab problems
Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 1:36 PM
Joined: 1/4/2010
Posts: 6

Hi people, as some may have gathered I have just started at a new facility, I was employed as a field/lab tech, but have only just started to get involved with the lab. 


To understand my problem I need to give a bit of background about the lab, it has been a sole charge operation for the last 10+ years and the same tech has been running the show, reporting to the operations manager. 


My problem is that coming from a more 'modern' background I can see many things that I was taught as wrong happening.  Some which I have rectified already (chloroform being stored by the fire exit), others I have queried and have been told that its not an issue because of various reasons, some which I have accepted others I still do not agree with.


The main problem I have now is that there are standard solutions that are extremely old, some according to the records were made in 1992, and all the standards are kept at room temp. There are no copies of standard methods that I can find to help me prove my point (that they should be only kept for a max of .... days, months), just the lab manual.


Any advice on this would be appreciated and any advice on challenging these issues but avoiding conflict would be also appreciated.







Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 3:02 PM
Joined: 12/31/2009
Posts: 40

For standards expiration, SM is not going to give you a lot of guidance.  Some of the old EPA methods do have expiration times for the standards/reagents.  You can find those here.  http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/methods/method/

Frankly, if an auditor hasn't noticed and called them out on it, you aren't going to be able to make much headway once you have exhausted the method specified times.

Pamela Schweitzer
Posted: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 8:59 AM
Joined: 10/5/2009
Posts: 6


NELAC has written standards for the laboratory and addresses this issue in Volume 1 Module 2 : Quality Systems General Requirements.  Perhaps you can use several items from below in your efforts? Documentation and Labeling of Standards, Reagents, and Reference Materials

Documented procedures shall exist for the purchase, receipt and storage of consumable materials used for the technical operations of the laboratory.

a) The laboratory shall retain records for all standards, reagents, reference materials, and media, including the manufacturer/vendor, the manufacturer’s Certificate of Analysis or purity (if available), the date of receipt, and recommended storage conditions.

b) For original containers, if an expiration date is provided by the manufacturer or vendor it shall be recorded on the container. If an expiration date is not provided by the manufacturer or vendor it is not required.

c) Records shall be maintained on standard, reference material, and reagent preparation. These records shall indicate traceability to purchased stocks or neat compounds, reference to the method of preparation, date of preparation, expiration date and preparer's initials.

d) All containers of prepared standards, reference materials, and reagents shall bear a unique identifier and expiration date.

e) Procedures shall be in place to ensure prepared reagents meet the requirements of the method.

f) Standards, reference materials, and reagents shall not be used after their expiration dates unless their reliability is verified by the laboratory.


The complete Module 2 can be viewed at this web site link:  





Keith Chapman
Posted: Monday, February 8, 2010 4:43 PM
Joined: 10/2/2009
Posts: 35

As a general rule of thumb (mine), prepared solutions and standards should be kept no longer than 1 year.  There are many exceptions to this "rule" but it is a good place to start.  Check Standard Methods for any specifics for a particular method.  Another good place to look is the EPA Manual for  the Certification of Laboratories Testing Drinking Water, 5th edition, which can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw000/methods/pdfs/manual_labcertification.pdf