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NY Biomonitoring Proficiency Testing Program for Trace Elements

The NYS DOH Proficiency Testing (PT) Program for Blood Lead was launched in the early 1970s as a regulatory tool to support childhood lead poisoning prevention programs. Over the subsequent four decades, the PT program expanded to include As, Cd, Hg, and Pb in whole blood and urine, and Al, Cu, Se, and Zn in serum. In 2015, the PT program transitioned from a regulatory program to a voluntary model to support biomonitoring measurements.

The mission of the Program is to achieve harmonization of trace element measurement data used for biomonitoring purposes.

Enrollment is open to all laboratories interested in producing high quality biomonitoring data. State public health laboratories that are members of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) National Biomonitoring Network are especially welcome.

The program is not a regulatory program and is not required for regulatory purposes.

The Program currently offers Trace Elements in whole blood, serum, and urine matrices. Samples (n=5 per matrix) are shipped three times a year with trace element concentrations relevant to human health and exposure.

Elements of interest by matrix

Matrix Graded based on fixed criteria Additional elements for informational purposes (Mean ± 2SD)
Blood As, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Mn, and Pb Sb, Ba, Be, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pt, Se, Ag, Sr, Tl, Sn, Ti, W, U, V, and Zn
Urine As, Ba, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Pb, Mn, Tl, and U Al, Sb, Cs, Cr, Co, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pt, Se, Sr, Te, Sn, W, V, and Zn
Serum Al, Co, Cr, Cu, Se, and Zn Sb, As, Be, Cd, Cr, Co, Pb, Mn, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pt, Sr, Tl, Sn, Ti, W, U, and V

Graded elements only – definitions

  • Pass/Fail: A result reported for a PT challenge sample can be graded as a pass (or fail) based on the quality specifications established for a given element and matrix. Quality specifications are the criteria used to define the acceptable range based on the analyte concentration and matrix; the quality specifications used by the NYS Biomonitoring PT Program are derived from established sources, including the Occupational and Environmental Laboratory Network (OELM).
  • Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory: Performance on a specific PT event may be judged satisfactory if the participant achieves a score of 80% or better, i.e., achieving a “pass” for at least 4 out of 5 challenge samples.
  • Successful/Unsuccessful: Successful PT status is achieved when a laboratory maintains satisfactory performance on two out of three consecutive PT events; for the purposes of this report, PT status is evaluated on a calendar basis.

PT Program Policies​

  • PT samples should be treated in the same manner as actual patient/study samples – follow internal QC procedures and report a single value.
  • Participants may report as many, or as few, elements for each sample matrix (blood, serum or urine) received, consistent with the laboratory’s analytical capabilities.
  • For PT purposes, only one method/instrument can be used to report a PT result. If a laboratory has multiple methods/instruments, then additional testing of PT samples can be performed after the event is closed.
  • For any result that is below the laboratory’s limit of detection (LOD), report the numerical value that accompanies the “less than the LOD” statement. For example, if the LOD is <1.0 µg/L, then enter “< 1.0” on the template.
  • Avoid using report codes or acronyms for results that are above the highest calibrator, or below the lowest calibrator, etc. For PT program purposes, report the numerical value with the appropriate qualifier.

Contact for more information on how to enroll.

Archived PT Reports

  Event 1 Event 2 Event 3
2021  April 2021  September 2021  November 2021
2020  July 2020  October 2020  December 2020
2019  May 2019  August 2019  December 2019
2018  June 2018  September 2018  December 2018
2017  April 2017  September 2017  December 2017
2016  May 2016  September 2016  December 2016