Benefits of participating in the SMC’s ongoing chemistry laboratory intercalibration exercise

Seven laboratories are participating in the fourth cycle of the SMC’s ongoing chemistry laboratory intercalibration exercise, which kicked off in fall 2021. Participation is voluntary, and the performance scores of individual participating laboratories is not made public.

Although the first of three rounds of the exercise has been completed, additional laboratories are encouraged to join Rounds 2 and 3, which are scheduled to begin in fall 2022 and fall 2023, respectively.

The benefits of participating in an SMC intercalibration exercise include:

  • Process improvement and optimization: For most laboratories that generate Southern California stormwater monitoring data, the only opportunity they have to demonstrate proficiency in various laboratory analysis methods is when processing Performance Evaluation (PE) samples as part of their accreditation and reaccreditation process. PE samples, however, typically represent matrices like distilled water or solvents at high concentrations that are comparatively easy to measure. The SMC’s intercalibration exercises provide an important opportunity for these laboratories to demonstrate proficiency using runoff matrices – complex, dirty samples that include confounding interferences at a wide range of concentrations. In a supportive, collaborative setting, study participants discuss results, quantify comparability across laboratories, and work toward continuous process improvement and optimization.
  • Networking opportunities: Laboratories that participate in SMC intercalibrations have an opportunity to meet their counterparts in Southern California’s stormwater monitoring community, as well as build relationships with numerous management agencies that contract with these laboratories for services. These networking opportunities help participating laboratories improve their visibility and win more contracts.
  • Preference during contracting: When laboratories voluntarily participate in SMC intercalibrations, they typically get better at performing numerous specific laboratory analysis methods. The SMC and its member agencies look favorably on laboratories that commit to continuous process improvement, and respond by giving these laboratories preference as contracting decisions are being made.