The Importance of Environmental Testing and Sampling Procedures in the Laboratory

Environmental testing is performed by various organizations such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Underwriter’s Association (UAE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), The American Society of Dental Engineers (ASDE) and NADA. The purpose of these various organizations is to set national standards of quality for the testing and fabrication of mechanical and electrical equipment. They also set licensing requirements and perform periodic re-testings of equipment to assure adherence to previously established and current testing procedures. The goal of environmental testing is to provide evidence that a device will perform as desired in a work environment.

The federal government requires all manufacturers, consumers, contractors and other entities to comply with applicable testing requirements. Since most testing laboratories are located within government agencies, there are many regional differences in test procedures. For example, while all inspections are done from a location where the equipment is installed or when it leaves the factory, some inspections occur after installation or after a certain amount of time has elapsed. In addition, some inspections are done only upon request of specific customers and are not mandated by law. The most effective way to ensure that EMT testing is done according to nationwide guidelines is to hire a testing laboratory that is accredited through one of the regional agencies.

When a device manufacturer or contractor submits an item for testing to one of these regional agencies, the equipment will be examined by trained technicians who are experts in the field of electrical and electronics technology. These specialized professionals will conduct a thorough inspection to ensure that the equipment will function as designed for use in a commercial or industrial setting. Most importantly, the inspection will identify any conditions that may negatively affect the equipment’s and/or function.

Environmental testing laboratories are governed by federal and state laws that require the testing of a wide range of items. Manufacturers, contractors and consumers should be aware that the testing procedures they will undergo will vary based on the type of product. Additionally, the materials being tested are of different compositions and require a variety of methods. The purpose of an environmental testing lab is to analyze these materials and determine whether or not they are safe for human consumption, based on both scientific and ecological standards.

The criteria for testing devices and equipment that are considered “safe” are based on science. For example, biological hazards cannot be effectively tested using current diagnostic methods, so it is imperative that these tests be performed using specialized instruments that can detect and isolate harmful chemicals and heavy metals that can pose a risk to humans. Likewise, standardization is critical to the success of EMT testing because it ensures that these devices and equipment are consistent in their performance. Manufacturers and installers of EMT and other medical equipment face significant legal liability if their products are found to be dangerous. Similarly, when hazardous drugs are manufactured or used in unsupervised labs or production, there is a strong legal responsibility to ensure that the drugs are well maintained and secure from leakage and misuse.

In addition to interpreting and testing equipment and materials, a good laboratory should also be able to interpret and perform risk assessments and create implementation plans to ensure compliance with local, state and federal laws. This includes the use of protective gear such as gowns and gloves, barriers to prevent exposure to hazardous substances and biological safety cabinets. These materials are designed to protect the health of laboratory personnel, as well as those working in close proximity to the samples. The design of these workstations should include air-purifying and germicidal UV lamps and other germicidal agents to destroy bacteria and other pathogens. A good laboratory should also have on-site supplies and applications that allow for the quick removal and replacement of contaminated materials.

Compliance with state and federal environmental testing and labeling requirements is necessary for certification and registration. Compliance will ensure that your products are safe for human consumption, and that they pass all inspections. It is up to the manufacturers to assure their consumers that the products they produce are of high quality and meet legal requirements. If a laboratory is found to be in violation of state and federal law, it can suspend operations, fine and even jail the personnel involved.