Analysis of the analytical performance of laboratories participating in two major U.S. bulk asbestos proficiency testing programs
Quality assurance and proficiency testing programs have been available for 27 years for U.S. laboratories using polarized light microscopy to analyze bulk building materials for asbestos. Total enrollment in the two principal bulk asbestos proficiency testing programs conducted by RTI International peaked at nearly 900 laboratories in the mid-1990s. Enrollment has stabilized in the last 5 years at approximately 475 laboratories, and rates of return of analysis results currently exceed 95%. More than 115,000 test samples have been sent worldwide by RTI to laboratories in these two programs. A review of more than 109,000 analysis results was undertaken to determine the frequencies of various qualitative error types, the types of bulk building materials most responsible for those errors, and the accuracy of precision of semiquantitative results. This assessment revealed that a small number of bulk building materials cause the majority of difficulties in each program, although error frequencies vary between the two programs. Overall laboratory performance has improved since the programs first began in the late 1980s, with a significant decline in qualitative errors and a much less dramatic decrease in errors associated with semiquantitative estimation of the amount of asbestos present
Harvey, B., & Winstead, WG. (2008). Analysis of the analytical performance of laboratories participating in two major U.S. bulk asbestos proficiency testing programs. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 5(7), 455-462.