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Chapter 9 : Laboratory Resources
This chapter describes laboratories throughout the United States that are capable of analyzing environmental samples. It then explores the role of the laboratory through the entire environmental sampling process and suggests best practices for the presampling interaction, sampling event coordination, and postsampling communication with the analysis laboratory. Laboratories from several networks may be involved in testing samples for biological agents. The chapter discusses networks in the grated Consortium of Laboratory Networks (ICLN) that play a role in analyzing environmental samples. Analytical laboratories receive samples with two different levels of urgency: routine and nonroutine. Routine samples are typically delivered, analyzed, and reported on a prearranged schedule. Perhaps the most significant reason for keeping the laboratory informed while a sampling event is unfolding is to give it adequate lead time to prepare, ultimately expediting sample analysis and reporting. The White House-sponsored ICLN effort discussed in the chapter represents the first step in tying together the diverse laboratory networks for better communication and consistency of analysis methods. Even though the chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the laboratory resources in the United States and their roles in sampling operations, an entire book could easily be dedicated to the topic of laboratory analysis of biological-threat agents. The chapter provides a deeper understanding of the complexities involved in laboratory analysis of environmental samples, as well as the direct relationship between the quality of the sample and the quality of the results.