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 Quality Assurance and Quality Control

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Triad is a Federal/State Interagency Partnership

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The Triad uses focused QA/QC processes to ensure data and decision quality.

The subject of Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Triad projects is covered in detail in QA/QC Dimensions section under Triad Management. In that section, the various levels of quality assurance activities are discussed. Organizational and project level quality assurance activities primarily address the level of quality sought by the organizations responsible for executing the cleanup. Technical quality assurance encompasses the bulk of the quality assurance concerns of regulatory agencies because of the need for technical defensibility in project decision-making and demonstration of compliance with cleanup requirements.

The Triad requires a relatively high level of analytical chemistry expertise and input throughout the life of the project. Many of the methods used in a Triad project are considered standard methods. However, there will also be methods that are considered non-standard. It is important to identify what methods will be required during a project early in its life cycle. Systematic planning provides the vehicle for gaining early stakeholder and regulatory acceptance.

A broad range of test kits and other field analytical methods are currently included in SW-846, the catalog of methods maintained by the RCRA program. The Superfund Contract Laboratory program also maintains a catalog of methods. For Triad projects, these methods are a good departure point when reviewing analytical options and their associated quality assurance and quality control options. It is important to note that SW-846 acknowledges that analytical flexibility is required to accommodate the scientific needs of waste programs. Analytical flexibility forms the basis of USEPA's Performance Based Measurement System (PBMS) initiative.

The key is to identify those project conditions that will require flexibility in the analytical protocol and achieve early consensus among all team members regarding sufficient QC. This assures that analytical variability in the results of the various methods is reduced to levels that are consistent with data and decision quality goals throughout the course of the project. The QA/QC protocols discussed and developed during the systematic planning process, including project-specific standard operating procedures, should be thoroughly documented in the project QAPP.

For non-standard methods, the intensity and frequency of quality control activities should be "front end" loaded so that potential problems can be identified early and changes can be made quickly to project-specific methods.

Finally, it is important to discuss and document the level of detail associated with all of the data collected on a project that must be preserved because of compliance requirements in the permanent project records.

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