Overview of Lab Recognition under EPA
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been delegated the power to establish Environmental Laboratories under Sections 4,16, and 17 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, rule 28 of the Water (P&CP) Rules, 1975 and section 16 of Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. The Central Government has also given the authority to recognise any existing laboratory as an Environmental Laboratory under Section 12 (1) (b) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.An Environmental laboratorycarries out thesample testing of soil, wastewater, industrial effluents and air emissions and other activities notified in the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The Central Government delegated the power to grant recognition to laboratories or institutes as environmental laboratories under section 12 of the EP Act, 1986 to the CPCB. Under section 13, the CPCB was conferred with the authority to appoint or recognise an analyst as a government analyst. Besides recognition by CPCB, the Environmental labs also go for laboratory accreditation which is now mandatory. Recognition and accreditationhelp these facilities establish their technical competence, including quality system management. CPCB recognition for environmental laboratories is considered the first step toward mutual acceptance of test results and certificates. The Central Government / CPCB also can de-recognise the environmental laboratory at any time without assigning any reason if it is deemed necessaryin the public interest. The role of such laboratories is essential in the implementation of the various pollution control initiatives and protection of the environment through various acts like
- The Water (P&CP) Act, 1974
- The Air (P&CP) Act, 1981
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Need for Lab Recognition under EPA in India
Environmental laboratories are the essential cornerstones of any effective pollution control programme. The analytical laboratories provide qualitative and quantitative data for sound decision-making purposes. To generate this valuable data with the desired accuracy and quantify the concentration of the constituents present in the samples, the laboratory should have the desired facilities and capabilities. The services offered by these environmental laboratories are crucial in many respect. Reports from such labs can become evidence in the court of law. These labs perform the collection and testing of any legal sample ordered by the court under section 14 of the EP Act, 1986. These labs are also responsible for industrial sample collection and testing for checking post-compliance. Therefore, Lab Recognition under EPA or Environment Protection Act becomes quintessential. The concept of laboratory recognition was developed to provide certification of the competence of laboratories to perform specific environmental testing and calibration. After recognition, the laboratory can be re-inspected at any time for its periodic assessment and performance. Therefore, a lab recognition under EPA or accreditation by NABLthat provides laboratory accreditation services to laboratories performing tests/calibrations following NABL criteria, which are based on internationally accepted standards, can be challenging. Keeping the lab in line with post-compliance is also required. Therefore, proper advice and expert supervision can help any lab comply with applicable Rules and Acts.
Prerequisites for Lab Recognition under EPA
All environment Labs (private/ NGOs/ Government/ Autonomous/ Public Undertaking/ Educational Institutes/ SPCB/ CPCB) should fulfil the following requirements.
- The lab must have sufficient space, proper design, interior furnishing, ventilation, lighting, temperature control, dust-free atmosphere etc.
- The focus should be on the lab’s design, soil and solid waste Analysis Section (including hazardous wastes), Instrumentation Section etc.
- The laboratory must have a standard operating procedure for the disposal of test samples, leftover samples, leachates/ extracts and sample preparation.
- The laboratory must maintain records demonstrating that samples have been disposed off as per the applicable rules and ensure that there are no environmental risks due to the disposal of samples.
- The lab must have either ISO 17025 or ISO 90001 certification along with OHSAS 18001 certification before submitting the application for Lab recognition under EPA.
- All SPCB headquarters’ labs/ Central Labs must also acquire accreditation under EPA, 1986, such as the ISO 17075 (NABL Accreditation) or ISO 9001 certificate along with OHSAS certification within one year.
- The laboratory has adequate environmental journals/books/analytical methods for sample analysis.
Documents Required for Lab Recognition under EPA
All environmental laboratories seeking recognition under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 must obtain accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). Accreditation and participation in the Proficiency Testing programme for all the parameters is done through accredited National/International PT provider organisations. The following documents and proofs will be required at the time of application
- Duly filled application with all the following enclosures (in triplicate)
- Brief layout plan map of the laboratory.
- Details of Equipment present
- Details of major projects undertaken w.r.t environmental studies (for existing laboratories)
- Methods details of test parameters
- List of Reference Standards with their name, make and expiry date
- Bio-data of officials and proposed Govt. analysts who fulfil the required qualification and experience
- Scanned photos of all sections of the laboratory
Steps in LabRecognition under EPA
A revised set of guidelines adopted by CPCB / MoEF&CC will replace the existing guidelines LATS/9/2008-09 for lab recognition. The procedure amended in the new guidelines will be liable to be adopted by all the recognised and new applicant Environmental laboratories. The following steps are currently being followed
Application and Fee submission
The applicant can register online through the CPCB portal and provide details like the lab's name, authorised person, contact details etc. The fee applicable for laboratories will depend on the report of analysis of parameters and the sampling charges as per Schedule II of the CPCB notification, 2022
The laboratory must fulfil the essential requirement and submit the duly signed checklist and the application for recognition under the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
Grant of Recognition
Recognition will be granted to match the last validity date of NABL Accreditation (ISO 17025:2017), having valid certification for the Occupational Health and Safety Management System. After receiving the complete application through this portal, a minimum one-month period shall be required to complete the process.
Duties of Labs
- Laboratories presently with valid recognition have been advised to apply for renewal of recognition at least 3 months prior to the expiry of their existing recognition.
- The labs maintain complete secrecy regarding the test results and do not divulge contents of the report to any person or authority other than the Officer empowered under Section 11 of the Act or the court having jurisdiction.
- Labs must maintain proper records and registers and the calculations and test results in respect of tests conducted by them.
- Private/NGO’s laboratory must maintain a complaint register with columns of customer's name, date of receipt of sample, name of a complainer and whether the complaint has been rectified in the laboratory or not.
- Recognition of private labs as well as recognition of their Analysts as Government Analysts will be done by the Central Government under clause (b) of sub-section (i) of section 12 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
- If the lab shifts from its original registered address, a recognised laboratory has to apply afresh. In case of a change of ownership too, the information must be communicated to the recognition body (MOEF/CPCB) within one month.
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