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Open-File Report 2005-1024


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External Quality-Assurance Programs Managed by the U.S. Geological Survey in Support of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network

By Natalie E. Latysh and Gregory A. Wetherbee


The U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Quality Systems, operates the external quality-assurance programs for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network (NADP/NTN). Beginning in 1978, six different programs have been implemented—the intersite-comparison program, the blind-audit program, the sample-handling evaluation program, the field-audit program, the interlaboratory-comparison program, and the collocated-sampler program. Each program was designed to measure error contributed by specific components in the data-collection process. The intersite-comparison program, which was discontinued in 2004, was designed to assess the accuracy and reliability of field pH and specific-conductance measurements made by site operators. The blind-audit and sample-handling evaluation programs, which also were discontinued in 2002 and 2004, respectively, assessed contamination that may result from sampling equipment and routine handling and processing of the wet-deposition samples. The field-audit program assesses the effects of sample handling, processing, and field exposure. The interlaboratory-comparison program evaluates bias and precision of analytical results produced by the contract laboratory for NADP, the Illinois State Water Survey, Central Analytical Laboratory, and compares its performance with the performance of international laboratories. The collocated-sampler program assesses the overall precision of wet-deposition data collected by NADP/NTN.

This report documents historical operations and the operating procedures for each of these external quality-assurance programs. USGS quality-assurance information allows NADP/NTN data users to discern between actual environmental trends and inherent measurement variability.


Latysh, N.E., and Wetherbee, G.A., 2005, External quality-assurance programs managed by the U.S. Geological Survey in support of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2005-1024, 66 p.

For additional information, contact:

Natalie Latysh
U.S. Geological Survey
Box 25046, MS 401
Denver Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225

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