ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – A U.S. Army civilian mobile expeditionary laboratory has earned International Standards Organization 17025 accreditation for air monitoring.
The Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Analytical and Remediation Activity (CARA) Mobile Expeditionary Laboratory (CMEL) achieved the accreditation for maintaining internationally recognized quality assurance and quality control processes.
CMEL has joined other internationally recognized laboratories from U.S. government agencies that follow the same standards, including the FBI, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Chemical Biological Center.
Keith P. Brozean, the CMEL chemist quality manager, said the lab has been working toward accreditation for the last five years. The Army mobile laboratory passed the accreditation audit with only minimal and minor deficiencies that were quickly corrected.
“The highlight for me was during the out brief of our external audit we were told that most labs have five to six times as many deficiencies during their initial accreditation and the ones that we received were very minor,” said Brozean, an Athens, New York, native who has served at CARA for five years. “It was not only affirmation that our hard work was worthwhile but additionally rewarding to see we were already exceeding expectations.”
Brozean said the key to earning the accreditation was having “supportive management and a great hard-working team that wants to succeed and improve.”
Made up of highly specialized U.S. Army civilians, CARA is a part of the 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. military’s premier all hazards command. Headquartered on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Soldiers and Army civilians from the 20th CBRNE Command take on the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations. The multifunctional all hazards formation commands units on 19 bases in 16 states.
An all-Army civilian activity, CARA conducts emergency response missions for Recovered Chemical Warfare Material, technical escort of surety and non-surety chemical material and mobile laboratory operations.
Franz J. Amann, the director of CARA, said the CMEL maintained its quality assurance and quality control program under the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Chemical Biological Center’s Chemical Agent Standard Analytical Reference Material program.
“This program started while CARA was under the Tech Escort Unit and 22nd Chemical Battalion (TEU) while supporting the destruction of the Chemical Stockpile located on Edgewood,” said Amann. “It is not easy to attain ISO accreditation.
“CMEL underwent their initial audit in May receiving only four observations, which is far lower than the average of 20 observations for an organization to receive their initial ISO 17025 accreditation,” said Amann, a retired U.S. Army Chemical Corps officer who is originally from Spartanburg, South Carolina. “CMEL corrected the observations within 30 days to get their accreditation.”
Amann said the air monitoring accreditation is the first ISO 17025 accreditation in a three-part series that CMEL is working to achieve over the next two years.
“CMEL is attaining ISO 17025 accreditation for three separate mission requirements – Air Monitoring, Chemical and Biological. This accreditation accounts for the Air Monitoring mission only. CMEL is targeting additional accreditation completion by end of 2023,” said Amann.
To maintain certification, the lab will undergo annual audits after initial certification. The first year is a review to ensure the organization is sustaining the ISO program while the second year is used for re-certification.
“As part of CMEL’s mission to provide theater validation laboratory support, maintaining ISO 17025 provides credibility to the lab’s processes and results,” said Amann. “This credibility will be critical during any contingency operations where combatant commanders must make operational and strategic decisions based on possible chemical and biological events or when low level air monitoring is required.”