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Quality Management Systems

Policy, regulatory and enforcement decisions are informed by laboratory data and information.  Also, services to Canadians are supported by operational forecast and prediction models which use data from our monitoring networks. In this context, Environment Canada's analytical activities are committed to ensuring their data is of the highest quality and adheres to accepted standards and procedures.  To this end, all data produced by Environment Canada’s air quality laboratories is subjected to strict quality assurance / quality control measures.

Where operational requirements demand it, laboratory quality assurance is carried out within the framework of an accredited quality management system.  The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed international standards on a variety of subjects, including quality management.  Perhaps the most widely recognized is ISO 9001:2008, which provides a set of standardized requirements for a quality management system,regardless of what the user organization does.  Another such standard, ISO/IEC 17025:2005, specifies the general requirements for laboratory competence to carry out tests and/or calibrations, including sampling. It covers testing and calibration performed using standard methods, non-standard methods, and laboratory-developed methods.

Environment Canada’s air quality laboratories that have been accredited or certified to one of the above standards use ISO 9001:2008 or ISO/IEC 17025:2005 requirements in developing their management system for quality, administrative and technical operations, and in confirming or recognizing the competence of the laboratories for regulatory compliance purposes.

Quality Management Systems – at work

Air Quality Research Division, Downsview

Environment Canada has registered the Quality Management System (QMS) for its Weather and Environmental Services (WES) component to the ISO 9001:2008 standard.  Work carried out in direct support of WES activities by the Experimental Studies Section of the Air Quality Research Division is included in this certified QMS.

Air Quality Research Division, Ottawa

The Science and Technology (S&T) Branch analytical laboratories at 335 River Road, Ottawa provide specialized scientific support and undertake research and development for Environment Canada programs. These S&T laboratories focus on five main areas: 

  • measuring air pollutants in ambient air and from mobile and stationary sources;
  • analysis of a wide variety of organic and inorganic compounds in diverse samples;
  • the development and validation of standardized biological test methods;
  • assessments and clean-up of contaminated sites; and
  • prevention of and response to pollution emergencies such as oil and chemical spills.

The S&T laboratories at 335 River Road are accredited as conforming to the ISO/IEC 17025:2005 international standard for laboratory quality assurance. This accreditation is provided through the Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA). The current scope of accreditation includes 43 analytical tests documented in 39 separate test methods. Air Quality Research Division staff co-ordinate the operation of the River Road laboratory QMS.

The scope of accreditation cuts across organizational boundaries to include analytical labs from several Divisions, namely:

  1. Air Quality Research Division (AQRD), including the Analysis and Air Quality Section and the Emissions Research and Measurement Section;
  2. Emergencies, Operational Analytical Laboratories and Research Support Division (EOALRSD), including the Emergencies Science and Technology Section; and
  3. Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Health Division (EWHD), including the Biological Assessment and Standardization Section.

It is the policy of AQRD’s, EOALRSD’s, and EWHD’s laboratories located at 335 River Road to provide the highest standards of chemical and biological analysis, method development, advice and interpretation to their clients.