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.

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.

Occasionally, we may conduct special “events” that may be of interest to biomonitoring laboratories. Examples include: interlaboratory studies for trace elements in keratin matrices; lead in bone; and most recently, an interlaboratory study for serum PFAS conducted in 2023.  The latter was integrated into our serum trace elements PT program and resulted in a report to participants that can be downloaded.

Elements of interest by matrix

MatrixGraded based on fixed criteriaAdditional elements for informational purposes (Mean ± 2SD)
BloodAs, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Mn, and PbSb, Ba, Be, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pt, Se, Ag, Sr, Tl, Sn, Ti, W, U, V, and Zn
UrineAs, Ba, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Hg, Pb, Mn, Tl, and UAl, Sb, Cs, Cr, Co, Cu, Mo, Ni, Pt, Se, Sr, Te, Sn, W, V, and Zn
SerumAl, Co, Cr, Cu, Se, and ZnSb, 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 1Event 2Event 3
2023April 2023July 2023December 2023
2022April 2022August 2022November 2022
2021April 2021September 2021November 2021
2020July 2020October 2020December 2020
2019May 2019August 2019December 2019
2018June 2018September 2018December 2018
2017April 2017September 2017December 2017
2016May 2016September 2016December 2016