Elevating California's Environmental Laboratories as Essential Workforce

Operational Issues Impacting the Environmental Laboratory Industry
Oral Presentation

Prepared by C. Sotelo
State Water Resources Control Board, California Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program, 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California, 95814, United States

Contact Information: [email protected]; 916-341-5175


Environmental testing laboratories are essential to public health and environmental safety and support the critical infrastructure during state emergencies, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. The essential nature of environmental testing laboratories was evident during the pandemic and under California's stay at home orders across our state. In March 2020, Californians were sent home to prevent the corona virus from spreading, but California residents still needed safe drinking water, clean beaches, and protection from other environmental pollutants like PFAS from infiltrating the environment and polluting their daily lives. None of the work to assist California state regulatory agencies to protect Californians from these public and environmental threats could be achieved without accredited environmental testing data. The data from these laboratories are used to support critical decisions by state regulatory agencies such as protection of drinking water and sanitary sewer discharges. However, not everyone in California knew or recognized environmental testing laboratories as essential. Some laboratories closed and there were supply chain and vendor issues that disrupted laboratory operations and threatened public and environmental health protection. This presentation will cover how the California Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program partnered with the California State Water Board Emergency Management Program to jump start a communication initiative to guarantee the environmental laboratory population and California's Stakeholders knew laboratories were essential.