IMA first in region to earn Nitrate/Nitrite Testing laboratory accreditation
The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) has been successful in attaining ISO/IEC 17025:2017, which is an international accreditation and standard for the ‘General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories’ specific to the nitrate/ nitrite test. Notice of accreditation was issued by letter in December 2022 by the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards. The Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS) conducted the accreditation exercise.
This certification serves as the international reference for the testing and calibration laboratories, that demonstrate their capacity to deliver reliable results and is a reliable indicator of laboratory’s technical competence. Accreditation therefore enhances the public confidence in test results, and provides underlying assurance that the organisation adheres to internationally recognised standards.
As a marine scientific research organisation, the IMA’s Environmental Quality Program Laboratory (EQPL) supports the IMA’s core research operation. Environmental monitoring is a major activity conducted in areas of microbiology, hydrocarbons, trace metal and nutrients to access environmental quality The results of tests assist in providing Trinidad and Tobago with an accurate snap shot of the state of its marine and coastal environment. During the accreditation process, all aspects of the laboratory’s facilities and operations were assessed, to ensure the production of accurate test data. Areas for improvement were identified and the laboratory technicians took all the corrective actions needed to improve performance quality to meet the international standards. The Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards worked with the IMA to review and provide guidance as to the requirements needed to meet the international standards in the following areas:
• Technical competence of laboratory staff;
• Validity and appropriateness of test methods;
• Suitability, calibration and maintenance of test equipment;
• Quality assurance of test and calibration data; and
• Record keeping and documentation. Meeting this international standard and achieving the accreditation is of strategic importance for the IMA since it improves the Institute’s global competitiveness.
The IMA can now provide comparable, technically valid and quality nitrate/nitrite test results. This enhances the organisation’s ability to access grant funding, participate in research fellowships and collaborations both here and abroad.
Being ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accredited also signals that the organisation has a well-structured management system in place to minimise risks and support quality and proficiency, and confirms the technical and ethical competency of the Institute’s staff.
The two-year accreditation process was led by Mr. Kyle Williams – Laboratory Supervisor/Quality Manager, Mrs. Wendy Nelson – Senior Research Officer and Mr. Shane Ramsammy – Technician who was supported by a consultant, Mrs Lori Ann Keane. Funding was provided through the Public Sector Investment Programme -Accreditation Programme for Public Laboratories executed by the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards. The IMA looks forward to utilizing our accredited status to support the work of our stakeholders.